Temple Of The Fuzz Witch. Right. I am not even going to try to figure out how they came up with their name as all I can think of probably won’t be right. One thing I do know though, and that is that the reason the word Fuzz is in their band name becomes clear when you put their work on. Either way, in all honesty, I cannot say having ever heard of the band. Thank God for Google, though… or not. Every search result I tried turned out more or less completely empty, whether it’s the band’s Facebook page, their Instagram account or even their Bandcamp page. And to say the not exactly detailed info sheet that came with the digital copy of this album enlightened me, would be a gross exaggeration. From what little info I could gather, TOTFW should be a Detroit, Michigan based trio consisting of Noah Bruner on guitar and as vocalist, Scott Thayer on bass and Cooper Arenton on drums. However, in a recently shot video (to be found here) it seems the band acquired a fourth member, unless she is a guest musician of course. Anyway, it’s not that important, the tunes are what we are here for. TOTFW plays doom metal since they came into existence back in 2017, with a strong stoner aspect. In fact, no one would be offended if you’d say they play stoner with strong doom influences. They have since released an EP and their debut full-length called Temple Of The Fuzz Witch and earlier this week they let the world get acquainted with their latest work, another full-length called Red Tide.
I of course did my homework and I have spent some time listening not only to Red Tide but to their self-titled debut as well and I have to say, the difference is clearly. Where the latter, which was received with mixed critics by the way, strongly resembled the work of Electric Wizard and Black Sabbath, their new work clearly has an identity of its own. It’s not that it is completely drained of the band’s original influences, not at all even, the slow, heavy almost droning riffs are the centerpiece of the whole as is to be expected from a doom album. However, they have added a few features, tempo changes and intermezzos to break the always lurking danger of sounding too monotonous, keeping things interesting and the listener focused. The seven songs on this release, that will keep you occupied for a little over 47 minutes, sound definitely more matured and better developed than the songs on their previous release, especially in the second half of the album. Red Tide starts with Baphomet which shows the most of the ‘old’ TOTFW. The ongoing lingering riffs, the monotonous, despairing vocals, all familiar ingredients. The next song, Cherenkov Light, already shows a bit more of the new path the band has chosen within the genre. Its atmosphere is heavier, (even) more oppressing but at the same time more accessible for the less experienced doom metalist, not in the least due to the slightly less lingering riffs further into the song.
The Others, in my opinion the best song on the album next to Cimmerian, speeds thing up a little at the end, undeniably showing the Black Sabbath and Electric Wizard influence. Next up is the unwieldy, slow Dead’s Desire which starts relatively mild, but weighs more and more on you as it progresses. A great introduction of, or rather preparation for the behemoth of the album, Cimmerian. Clocking almost ten minutes this song ticks all the boxes and would have been a great album closer. It isn’t though as, one could consider it a bonus, two more songs await the eager listener, the somewhat heavier set Agony and the lighter played Ungoliant with a small surprise near its end.
It’s safe to say a lot has been changed between TOTFW’s last release and their new one and in my opinion it’s nothing but positive. They have developed in almost every possible direction, from composing songs to execution, by a very impressive amount. Even though their music still is heavily influenced by the likes of Black Sabbath and Electric Wizard, there are worse bands to draw your inspiration from by the way, they have managed to insert an identity of their own into it. Admittedly their sound is not innovative or particularly original, but that is not taking anything away from the quality of this album. There’s no need to reinvent a genre when you are more than capable to stay within the borders and still keep things interesting, which is exactly how TOTFW should be described. They have delivered a solid album that will most definitely charm fans of the genre and the aforementioned bands that influenced TOTFW and that even might lure a few newcomers into the void as well. Fire it up!