Review: One-Eyed Doll – Witches

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Artist: One-Eyed Doll
Album: Witches
Rating: 10/10

Track Listing:
01 Ember
02 Prayer
03 Black In The Rye
04 A Rope For Mary
05 More Weight
06 Remember
07 Witch Hunt
08 Stillness
09 Afflicted
10 Sorrow
11 The Ghosts Of Gallows Hill

Cute, terrifying, delightful, disturbing, fun, dark and genre-defying. These are all words that can be used to describe the music created by the two individuals that make up Austin TX’s One-Eyed Doll. For nearly 10 years, vocalist Kimberly Freeman and producer (2006-present)/drummer (2009-present) Jason Sewell (AKA Junior) have been creating the type of music that chills you to the bone but has you singing along. To most, this music does not seem serious… and that’s just the way they like it because that’s how they reel you in. I first learned of this band when they toured with Otep back in March of 2013… a night I’ll never forget. These 2 individuals are as much about the performance aspect of their music, as they are the talent and I love every bit of it. It was announced late last year that they had caught a break, signing to indie label Standby Records… and that they would release their first concept album, Witches. It’s no secret that this reviewer is a huge fan of concept albums… but for a band like this to create one? I was on the edge of my seat with excitement and, for good reason. The concept that they chose is the events surrounding the infamous Salem Witch Trials, featuring direct quotes from the trials themselves! The album is centered around Mary Eastey.. one of the most famous of the accused…and one with a very sad story to tell.

The album opens with “Ember” which, as you guessed, sees the witches meeting their fiery end in a fit of hysteria. It’s an explosive introduction and sets the scene for one of the best concept albums you’ll hear all year. We’re then pulled into “Prayer”, a pretty straightforward way of thinking about this track is that it’s a cry out for salvation. While this is true, it’s not the type of “Prayer” you might expect… this is a cry out for revenge. Beautifully orchestrated, this is one of many of the darker tracks on the album… the witches cry out “enrage us, give us strength to murder in your service with sharpened crucifix. May the rivers flood with the blood of the damned.” They feel they’ve done nothing wrong and they want justice, in the most gruesome way possible. They want a bloodbath, all in the name of the desolate one. One of my favorite tracks is titled “Black in the Rye”, which I’m incredibly happy to hear that the band has added to their set on their current tour. This is, in essence, one of the most metal tracks on the album… instrumentally, lyrically and through the execution. “Black magic spells, the sickness growing stronger every day… a witch among us dwells, the reason for this play of disarray”, these lyrics are about the beginnings of the conspiracy to set these witches ablaze. This song also centers around the theory that there was a black fungus in the town’s rye, which had a chemical in it that was similar to LSD, causing the many accusations. The track that follows is called “A Rope For Mary”, Freeman throws us into the mind of Mary Eastey… a mother, a wife and one of the most well-known witches in the stories surrounding the trials. It’s a haunting track that may almost have the listener shedding tears… because this track tells of Mary as a ghost, not as a witch. She recounts how good her life was as she faces her inevitable end, “I was a good wife, my children were my life… I hope they’ll be alright.” Just as suddenly as you begin to feel sympathy for Eastey, you hear the haunting words “feed your babies to the witches tree, keep them safe from the likes of me!” mocking her accusers. The town has gone insane with accusations and, thus far, no concrete proof. Then we’re jerked into “More Weight” which is, as you guessed, the track that speaks of the multiple tests, specifically the stone crushing test (used to draw out confessions), that were performed in an attempt to prove them guilty.

Now, we’ve come to “Remember”… a full orchestral instrumental that serves as the halfway point in this gruesome tale. Beautifully arranged, it has a melancholy air about it and accurately portrays what the listener may be feeling at this point.

We’re thrown violently back into the story with “Witch Hunt”… the accusers, along with the rest of the town, searching out the witches to seal their fates. “She’s gone astray, chosen to play with magic.. it’s all so tragic, take her away”. This track manages to pull out some of their southern metal side, instrumentally. You can’t tell me that, after listening this track, you won’t find yourself reaching for your pitch fork and crying out “WITCH HUNT!”. One of the most hauntingly, beautifully dark tracks on the album is that of “Stillness”… have you guessed what this is track about? It’s about the stillness of Mary’s body as she is hung, being sentenced for a crime they had no proof of. It’s about the cruelty of the crowd as they look on in wonder, gladly taking her life… for nothing more than being different, being a witch in a world that does not accept oddities, for being herself. The Salem Witch Trials can be looked on as the most extreme case of bullying in the history of the world. Several women were hung for merely being themselves, practicing the mystical art of witch craft.. which was passed down to them by their ancestors. But in that day and age and, indeed, still to this day… the world refuses to accept what they do not understand, so they condemn it. The album closes with “The Ghosts of Gallows Hill” which is the echo of the witches saying “remember us, remember us so this may never happen again”. Forever ,they are doomed to haunt that hill because their souls do not rest.. they were, as they seen it, innocent and they intend to make sure these atrocities never happen again.

Everything about this album from the production and arrangement to the lyrics and music is absolutely flawless! This can be considered, by many, as OED’s first “attempt” at “serious” music. Moreso than anything, Witches has taken a historical event and put it in such a light that we might feel some sympathy for the innocents involved in these trials. Witchcraft is still alive and well these days, whether you view it as a sin or not… it’s something that exists and will continue to exist. Rather than condemn what we can’t understand, why not embrace it… learn from it, welcome it… Witches is out on Standby Records now and I recommend EVERYONE, regardless of your genre preference, go pick it up! Check out the official album stream below, tour dates in the banner and some amazing photos taken by Nikki McGarvey of Vibrant Expressions Photography!

Buy Witches

One-Eyed Doll is:
Kimberly Freeman – Vocals
Jason “Junior” Sewell – Drums/Production