Sometimes you receive a CD with an order that makes you think: “more people need to hear this.” Satanic Panic, the debut from Canadian Crimson Witch, is one that deserves to be known to a wider audience. The band is not easy to categorize. Their sound comes close to a NWOBHM band, who cheats in the desert with his neighbor Grunge and roommate Doom. And as soon as you hear the vocals of Jacob Arnet, you think that John Garcia of Kyuss, Hermano and Unida, has a brother living in Canada.
The album kicks off with a high-pitched scream, in the more than seven minutes long Dew in the Wind. This song immediately shows what the band stands for. Good riffs, the combination of two guitarists, tempo changes and recognizable charismatic vocals. After four minutes the distorted bass sound takes over for a while and then the guitar solos start. Fortunately, Crimson Witch has two guitarists who play really good together.
The second track, The Curse of the Crimson Witch, is reminiscent of a typical dessert rock song, recorded in the desert: a languid riff with plenty of room for vocals. This lasts for six minutes without having a real highlight. Is that bad? No. Phoenix Tears, the third song feels more like an intermezzo and the vocals even get a bit annoying here. Fortunately, the fourth song Nibelheim pulls the album back where it started: the more than seven minutes long song starts with an intro of soft guitar sound and moves into a slow tempo.
In Ride with the Flames, the shortest song on the album, the tempo goes straight up and the NWOBHM influences are audible again. If there was a single from the album, it would be Ride with the Flames: Good tempo, catchy chorus and wonderful solo parts by Greg Dawson and Kyle Kim. Back to the desert for a seven-minute session. Galloping Goose starts with a somewhat silly drum intro (which could also be due to the production) and luckily, it’s sound quality gets better again. A wonderfully slow song with a leading role for the two guitarists from halfway through to the end. It almost sounds psychedelic and could have lasted longer in my opinion. The CD ends with Satanic Panic, also the title track. A fine example of the best that is saved for last. Fast riffs, great drum sound, fierce vocals, in short, an excellent song that is perfect for putting on your battle jacket, throwing your fists in the air and bang your head.
As previously written, Jacob Arnet’s vocals are very reminiscent of John Garcia’s and you have to love that. Arnet certainly does not try to imitate the throat of the desert god Garcia.
The CD is a DIY release, which is not necessarily synonymous with a lousy production. Unfortunately, that does apply a bit to Satanic Panic. The music sounds thin sometimes, which is a shame. If you can listen through that, it’s a very good record and hopefully we’ll hear more from these Canadians.