They say history repeats itself. But with music, it isn’t so much a repetition as it is the new generation hearing something old and making it their own. Regardless of genre, modern music is an amalgamation of bits and pieces from past sounds twisted into something new. Whether that’s a good or bad thing is often subjective, but the process is well established.
Which brings us to the sub-genre of psychedelic metal. Also called stoner metal, fuzz metal, neo-psych rock, etc. it’s equal parts desert metal (à la Kyuss), heavy metal (think classics like Black Sabbath or Deep Purple), along with a mix of influences from delta blues to jam bands. Psychedelic metal has no concrete definition.
Nashville, Tennessee’s All Them Witches has a sound deeply rooted in both blues and classic metal: stripped-down, driving rhythms, downtuned, fuzzed-out bass, huge, shredding guitar riffs—all matched by haunting vocals. Playing to a sold-out crowd at Washington D.C.’s favorite funeral parlor-turned-music venue, Rock & Roll Hotel, All Them Witches kicked off the night with “Funeral for a Great Drunken Bird” (from 2013’s self-released Lightning At The Door), a subtle eulogy written as a slow-building opener. Frontman Charles Michael Parks Jr. (known simply as “Parks” to bandmates and fans) delivers the lyrics in haunting tones, not quite singing and not quite speaking but perfectly matching the driving instrumentation on tracks like “3-5-7,” “Diamond,” and “Am I Going Up?”
Favorite points of the night were an unexpectedly amazing closer in “Blood And Sand / Milk And Endless Water,” a track off their third album Dying Surfer Meets His Maker, and the always amazing “When God Comes Back” a song you have to see live to truly experience its power.
Cut me up primitive I’ll die like a slave Riding on the wings of that Jesus snake Ten thousand souls in your right hand Never lost ground to no cold blooded man Ten thousand souls in your right hand Juggernaut child in a fragile land Everything I see is just a part of it Every word I breathe is just a part of it I saw her drink from that cup of light So I know she still exists
– “When God Comes Back” from Lightning at the Door (2013)
All Them Witches isn’t a band to mosh or crowd surf to—the impact of their shows is in the energy the songs carry when performed live, each building into the next, the crowd feeding off it and vibing as one. They’re a must-see band for any fan of classic psych rock or metal, with a live energy that words can never fully capture.
The band is currently on the European leg of their tour, with dates in the UK, followed by a brief stint back in the U.S. in North Carolina and Tennessee in June before heading back to Europe throughout the summer.