Album Review: Burning Witches - Dance With The Devil

Oh. My. Gawd.

Straight off the bat, let's just make it clear that if anyone says that "women can't rock", they are just plain wrong. Women have been rocking for decades; look at Aretha Franklin, Heart, Girlschool, Sonic Youth, Nightwish and loads more. But just in case that still isn't enough proof, have I got the album for you, as this weekend saw the release of a new record which puts any remaining doubts to bed. Dance With The Devil is the latest record by Swiss heavy metal band Burning Witches, and to cut this review short, it is absolutely glorious. Soaring vocals, sweet riffs and brilliant songs make this one of the standout metal records of the year so far. Oh, and one more thing: the band is comprised, entirely, of women.

Clearly taking influence from the likes of Judas Priest, this album has its roots firmly in that classic '80s metal sound; it's a purist's dream. For almost an entire hour, my ears were ablaze as the towering vocals and punchy riffs cast them alight. All the way through, from 'The Incantation' to 'Battle Hymn', there's not a single weak moment, not a single song that's easy to skip. Every single track is great at worst, and a couple are truly phenomenal.

The true opening song, 'Lucid Nightmare', is anything but. Following 'The Incantation', you're immediately thrust straight into headbanging action with nothing held back. One of the heaviest songs on the record, the instrumental work is nothing short of exceptional, and the vocals tear straight into your soul, whether they're screaming the high notes or growling. It's a rip-roaring introduction to the record, and sets the scene for what's to come.

Essentially, that is more of the same, which is exactly what a record like this should be. Unapologetic, fast, and heavy as all Hell, this is the biggest middle finger to sexist metal fans there might have ever been. And when it does slow up, on the rare ocasion of a clean guitar, it only showcases some beautiful guitar work, with the intro of 'Black Magic' giving the ears a brief respite from the relentlessness of what came before it by allowing them to focus on some truly gorgeous clean guitars. Naturally, though, this heavy break doesn't last, and it's soon back to business as usual.

The album's closer, 'Battle Hymn', is a suitably lengthier and epic way to finish off, with a lovely intro making way for more huge guitars and vocals. It's a fantastic song, and I'm beginning to run out of superlatives for this record. There's no mercy shown, no chance to wind down and take a seat. Your face is being melted, and tough luck if you don't like it. It's happening, deal with it.

The singer, whose name I can currently only find as Laura, tears her way through this record, giving me the image of a more aggressive Bruce Dickinson. She has the operatic and melodical nature of the Iron Maiden vocalist, though her growls in songs such as 'Necronomicon' (which sounds like a comic-con for some strange people) are akin to those of Cradle of Filth. She finishes the album with a true Dickinson scream, and it is stupendous. As for the other band members, they just kick ass all the way through. Women can't play like men can? Piss off. Of course they can.

This is easily my most postive album review of the year thus far, and perhaps that's because my natural bias, musically, is towards heavy metal. I'll happily listen to most other genres and enjoy them, but metal will always be king in my ears. So though I keep this website as mainstream as possible, sometimes I will just treat myself to a metal day. That's why I reviewed Tygers of Pan Tang's Ritual last year, and why today's piece is also a metal record. But even with that being said, this is one of the strongest metal records of the last few years, let alone 2020. Burning Witches have absolutely smashed it with this one, and it's going to be on repeat this week, without doubt. Punchy, powerful, sensational, Dance With The Devil is proof that classic metal is very much alive, and that women can absolutely rock - at LEAST as much as men can. Out. Standing.