Dutch heavy metal originators Vortex have scratched and clawed their way through the underground, emerging with Them Witches, a collection of songs unearthed from 1987, brought to life in time for the band’s 40th anniversary.
One of the first practitioners of heavy metal in the Netherlands, Vortex formed in 1979, a time when the style was a blank canvas. Influenced by the likes of Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin, the early compositions of founding member and primary songwriter Martjo “Whirwolf” Brongers revealed a band capable of writing powerful, harmony-dominated metal that would quickly make Vortex a cult favourite in their home country. Since their appearance on 1982’s Holland Heavy Metal Vol. 2 – Live in Brouwershoeck, Vortex has steadfastly flown the Dutch metal flag, never chasing trends and always remaining true to themselves. Although mainstream and commercial acceptance has forever eluded the band, Vortex hasn’t lasted 40 years by sheer luck. Them Witches is a testament to the forever-burning flame of old-school metal.
In 2018, Brongers digitized the band’s old demos. Along the way, he uncovered songs originally intended for the band’s third album, which was supposed to see the light of day in 1987. Realizing the potential of these songs, Brongers called vocalist Jurjen “Thunderforce” Tichelaar with the idea to re-record the demos in preparation for the band’s 40th anniversary. Them Witches is out on September 27th 2019 via Gates of Hell Records.
Such is the staying power of metal; the 10 tracks that make up this album don’t necessary sound like they belong in the era they first were written. With the resurgence of traditional heavy metal and the plethora of NWOBHM-inspired bands today, Them Witches has a thick classic vein running through it but still sounds fresh.
This is heavy metal as you know and love it. Rollicking riffing, galloping hooks, horn-throwing and head-banging vocals and percussion, Vortex deliver them all and much more.
You’ll bang your head, even if that wasn’t the plan as the infectious beats take over. Infecting the mind, body and soul to the point where you’re almost a puppet to its demands.
It’s not going to change the world of metal but it’s not supposed too. It’s just a welcome accompaniment to a mainstay of metal’s back catalogue. Something for long term fans to sink their teeth into but also a way for new fans to get to know this massively under-rated band.
Vortex – Them Witches Full Track Listing:
2. Death at Dawn
4. Them Witches
5. Gonna Hit You
7. No Breath
9. Five Fall
10. Thirst Things First
Vortex - Them Witches (Gates of Hell Records)
The Final Score - 7.5/10