Album Review: Swamp Witch – Dead Rituals (Transylvanian Tapes)

Oakland-based sludge ritualists Swamp Witch are gearing up to release their second full-length Dead Rituals, which drops May 10th 2019 via Transylvanian Tapes.

Since first congregating at the end of 2009 from within the empty expanse of California’s San Joaquin Valley, their hypnosis-inducing sounds continued to amass, eventually leading them to the their current home in the Bay Area. With 2010’s Gnosis EP, and 2014’s The Slithering Bog LP releases, amongst countless shows, the band continued to hone their strange tendency toward unconventional modes of sonic destruction.

More recently, the bands most potent strain of cosmic sludge has surfaced as the four-track full-length Dead Rituals, which serves as the band’s most worthy offering into the bizarre pathways between otherworldly dimensions of cosmic death and doom calamities, dusty lost albums from the 70’s, and the self-loathing punishment of yesterday’s painful sludge classics.

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You gotta love a bit of filth and that is exactly what Swamp Witch’s Dead Rituals is, a seriously filthy bit of filth. Dredged from the mud that sits at the bottom of a thick swamp. The guitars of Petrified in Sewage are sticky and foul while the vocals howl like something that has been woken after centuries asleep. It’s so heavy, the methodical tempo pushing its weight down as we reach the half way point and the disgust reaches its apex. Slowing down to a near crawl, it’s almost too much to handle but like a hand reaching through the crust to grasp ours as we sink, a sharper guitar tone cuts through impressively.



Ready for more? You better be as Serpent Drug Cult Mythology continues the super oppressive sound. The weight of Swamp Witch’s filth continuing to overpower and fill the mind with all kinds of dark thoughts. The power behind the bass and drums keeps things constantly on edge, it’s impossible to predict just how much heavier they’re going to get. The vibrating thrum of bass that comes at the halfway point, followed by the painful whine of the lead guitar is staggeringly good.

Catacomb Saint doesn’t change up a winning formula. Dripping in scuzzy feedback, impossibly slow yet so very heavy, the sun is baking the filth creating a foul smelling crust. This track is the crust forming and then being broken open. It’s putrid but exhilarating.

A monstrosity of a release brings one more horrific effort in the form of the title track. Night is drawing in and the attempts to stay afloat in the sickening and sucking quagmire of Dead Rituals has reached peak exhaustion. Give up, the Swamp Witch has us now.

A shocking yet thrilling combination of doom, sludge and death metal. Be part of the rituals.

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Swamp Witch – Dead Rituals Full Track Listing:

1. Petrified in Sewage
2. Serpent Drug Cult Mythology
3. Catacomb Saint
4. Dead Rituals

The album and earlier releases can be ordered over on Bandcamp and via Transylvanian Tapes here. Find out more about Swamp Witch by checking out their Facebook Page and Instagram.

Swamp Witch - Dead Rituals (Transylvanian Tapes)
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