One-Eyed Doll are perpetually busy. Constantly touring, organising merch and tours, writing and recording. In 2013 they re-released Monster as Monster (ReMonstered), and released a few tracks in the interim. But a new full length album is what the fans wanted, and this year, it is what they’ll have.
Witches presents a few firsts for Kimberly Freeman (vocals/guitar) and Jason Rufuss Sewell a.k.a Junior (drums/bass/synths/whatever is needed). It is the first time they have released a concept album, and their first album to be released through a label – Standby Records. The label has maintained a hands off approach, letting One-Eyed Doll do their thing. And as always Junior has donned his producer hat for the record.
Based on the Salem Witch Trials, and the mania of the time, Witches is a story told from various perspectives. Across the 11 tracks you hear from those accused of witchcraft, the people of Salem and the members of the court who were entrusted to maintain justice; with some lyrics across the record being direct quotes from trial documents.
“Ember” opens the album with just the right amount of hysteria suited to a record of this nature, complete with heavy, discordant instrumentation, and Kimberly’s desperate, yet rage filled vocals. The perfect way to start an album about this moment in history, as the album tells its story right from the very beginning with “Ember” sharing the tale of the young girls who started acting hysterical, and accusing certain women in Salem of bewitching them, thus putting in motion the Salem Witch Trials. And without missing a beat, a flamenco guitar softly opens “Prayer” as Kimberly’s sweet vocals take on the plight of those seeking salvation from witches, which works perfectly alongside the talents of violinist Damian Sol.
Witches is a somewhat erratic album that jumps from what is probably One-Eyed Doll’s heaviest efforts to slower, peaceful tracks to fit the story embedded in the song. That being said though, it’s not a mess of an album that is trying to be too much. One-Eyed Doll know their strengths and limits, and while Witches certainly pushes the limits more than previously seen, it never misses the mark. Intended to be listened to from beginning to end, and indeed better that way, Witches uses repeat melodies throughout the record, with certain lyrics being shared among tracks to really drive the concept album idea home. This makes it truly feel like one 43 minute piece of music.
After One-Eyed Doll takes you through life during the Salem Witch Trials, the beautiful “The Ghosts of Gallows Hill” brings the album to a close as the ghosts of those condemned to death provide theories as to why they were hunted and killed, and the plea that this never happens again.
Understandably this is a serious album, so there are no humorous tracks found on Witches, but it is the perfect next step for One-Eyed Doll. A step that I suspect will see them gather more fans and greater success around the globe. And don’t worry, I doubt the fun has left One-Eyed Doll, it just wasn’t necessary here.