VORTEX "Them Witches"
In what seems like a hundred years ago, in a record store which has ceased to exist for decades, I recall seeing a cheap and lurid looking album called "Metal Bats" by a band named VORTEX. Those were the heady days when I was on the prowl for any underground metal that looked sufficiently evil and worth picking up.I was intrigued, but passed on buying the album that day. But every few years since that long ago day, I've seen the name VORTEX occasionally resurface. And now in 2019, I finally crack into an album by that same Dutch band VORTEX, who have clung to life throughout the decades despite never having any big success.
I'm guessing "Them Witches" probably doesn't sound too different than the "Metal Bats" from all those years ago. And in fact, this album features songs intended for a 1987 release by VORTEX that fell through. It sounds like it. This is early 80's metal in every way, with no thrash influence and no sign of modernity. And it's actually a lot of fun to listen to! What exactly does VORTEX circa 2019 sound like? Like a full on collision between oldschool ACCEPT and SAXON, with tons of twin guitar harmony work, awkward but endearing vocals and maybe just a touch of gritty rock n roll as well. Original these guys are definitely not; "Gonna Hit You" is an obvious knock off of PRIEST's "Steeler" but still fist-pumping fun despite the theft while "I.C.U." owes a lot to SAXON around the time of "Wheels of Steel". The peppy rocker "No Breath" even reminded me of ROSE TATTOO!
There's some really enjoyable tunes here if you're not real stuffy. The title track is a dead sure winner full of super catchy riffing that grabs you by the scruff of the neck. Great guitar work here as well! "Tremorial" and "Five Fall" are a bit more involved and are bursting with twin guitar melodies...they remind me a bit of Sweden's BULLET. The singing of Jurjen "Thunderforce" Tichelaar, who wears the same goofy facepaint he did 30 plus years ago, is pretty strident and often quite clunky, but his enthusiasm shines through.
"Them Witches" emerges as an admirable romp through early 80's retro-metal delivered without shame or guilt from a band that deserves a hand for lasting so long without giving in to any form of trendiness.