Album Review: Karyn Crisis’ Gospel Of The Witches – “Salem’s Wounds”

Karyn Crisis’ Gospel Of The Witches
Salem’s Wounds
(Century Media Records)

Regardless of gender, there aren’t many voices in extreme metal quite as intense and diverse as former Crisis vocalist Karyn Crisis. Featuring a very unique ability to mix both beautiful clean vocals with deep growls, she has managed to consistently set herself apart from the competition over her two decade career. After taking some time away from music, she has finally returned with her new project Gospel Of The Witches, featuring her husband Ephel Duath guitarist Davide Tiso on guitar and bass, as well as Vaura’s Charlie Schmid on drums.

Musically speaking, Salem’s Wounds is an album that tends to bounce around constantly, never settling on one particular genre affiliation. Sometimes it’s a doom record, sometimes it’s a progressive metal record, sometimes it’s…doomy, progressive post-rock?  This variation on genres is in part mostly to the incredibly approach by Tiso. His tone on the album really perfectly accentuates Crisis’ voice and helps to really create the type of dark, gothic, occult soundscapes they seem to be going for. Tracks like “Ancient Ways”, “Aradia” and “Mother” specifically that riff at the 2 minute mark, are where his unique sound and approach truly transform the album into something special.

As far as the vocals on this album go, I think they are the perfect showcase of Crisis’ unique talent. One of the more poignant moments is on the song “Mother” where her voice sort of rotates between moments of sultry singing and deep, almost bluesy growling. Though Crisis’ voice is already deep enough, the album also includes occasional backup vocals from Mike Hill of Tombs and Ross Dolan of Immolation, just to add a little extra heaviness. Another of the truly brilliant, infectious moments of the album is on the track “Alchemist” which shines again thanks to her wonderfully flexible vocal style.

One of the coolest parts about this album, I believe, is the fact that this style of metal really is the perfect accompaniment to Crisis’ vocal style. Rather than the album featuring Karyn Crisis and some dudes trying to not get overshadowed, it is instead a perfect mixture of styles and sounds that truly works together in tandem to create some of the most unique extreme metal I’ve heard this year. (Brandon Ringo)

Purchase Salem’s Wounds here.

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