The initial blast of “To Die Awake”, leadoff track on the new The Witch EP from Columbia SC outfit By the Bull, will make anyone leaning over to fiddle with the volume knob jump hard enough to hit their head–ask me how I know, I’ll show you the dent in my dashboard. 90’s alt-metal is an obvious touchstone here, from At The Drive-In to Helmet, but things get weird in the time “Empires” takes to recover from a quick-hit riff to emerge on the prog-pop side of things like Faith No More in a fit of psychedelic frenzy.
Front man Nick Brewer‘s time in The Memorials will no doubt lead some to expect similar offerings from this group, but there are much more varied soundscapes present, evidenced by the inclusion of trumpet, trombone, tuba, and acoustic guitars in the mix alongside the usual guitars, bass, drums, and keyboard. This variety of approach shows most prominently on the atmospheric “Wake Up to Break Up” as well as the push-pull dynamics of “Three Dreams in the Belly of Anne.”
The promise of a riff-fest is most fulfilled on the intense, punk-like fury of “Sleep Paralysis Attack”, which should satisfy anyone looking for a heavier sound or style; Brewer and company aren’t afraid of it, certainly, but they prove here that they’re capable of much more interesting output.