You just can’t keep a good man down, and here, having just finished the first run with his Vanishing Life hard-rock project, Walter Schreifels is back with his desert rock/blues supergroup Dead Heavens, and their debut album ‘Whatever Witch You Are’.
In truth, this feels like a much easier bed fellow compared to Vanishing Life, relying on pulsating rhythms that come easily to the hardcore veteran. The result is a hip-shaking, bourbon-soaked record that owes as much to 60s psych as it does to 90s stoner rock.
More than ably backed by a stellar supporting cast of musicians, including Paul Kostabi (Youth Gone Mad, White Zombie) and Drew Thomas (Youth of Today, Into Another), ‘Whatever Witch You Are’ also sounds fantastic. The grooves of ‘The Moon Will Listen (But Not The Sun)’ are as deep as Death Valley, making for a suitably epic head-shaking freakout.
Elsewhere, ‘Adderall Highway’ – first released as a single in 2015 – is a full-throttle charge down Route 66, flames burning on the Pontiac Firebird. It’s classic life-on-the road stuff, Schreifels whispering he’s “on your side” like a bad influence.
Naturally, for such a genre-driven album, it does get a tad wearisome, especially on the near-eight minute trial of ‘Gold Tooth’, which takes the sun-blasted desert rock and toasts it to a cinder. It’s only saved from hackneyed oblivion by a killer vocal performance by Schreifels and some sharp song writing in the latter third.
Ultimately, ‘Whatever Witch You are’ is a clever classic rock album that serves as one of Schreifels finest away from the safe hardcore/post-hardcore stomping grounds. It sounds phenomenal – thanks in no small part to the killer arrangements and top-notch musicianship – but has enough soul to warrant repeated listens.
‘Whatever Witch You Are’ by Dead Heavens is out now on Dine Alone Records.
Words by Rob Mair (@BobNightMair)