SKILLET w/, Red Gazelle & RedHook Big Top, Luna Park, Sydney Thursday 15th November, 2018 …
Since their launch in 2015, Switzerland’s all-girl metalheads Burning Witches have drummed up quite the following.
Drawing inspiration from elements of power, thrash and speed metal, the buzz around their second album, Hexnenhammer, is that it is nothing short of a masterpiece.
There’s a consciences evocation of tradition in the new material. Inspired by the book Malleus Maleficarum, otherwise known as The Hammer Of The Witches, in German, Hexenhammer, a document that legitimised witch hunting in 1486, Burning Witches explore themes of oppression, manipulation and violence against the weak. Hexenhammer is a siren song, pulling you in and playing tricks with your mind and your emotions. A beautiful story, a journey, Hexenhammer is much more than a music album. “We’re so happy,” gushes drummer Lala Frischknecht in broken English. “It’s good hard work paid off!”
Since their name is Burning Witches, Frischknecht says this concept was perfect for their second album. “In Switzerland, it’s a part of you that this happened in the past and is so sad. In fact Malleus Maleficarum deals with witch hunting, which fits our name–persecution, torture, execution, is a sad story in the dark days of our history.
“It’s a perfect concept for our album, and we have huge respect for those people because these were innocent people, persecuted back in the days. Maybe it helps for young generations to learn about that and to expose the sadness of what happened.”
Our lyrics aren’t pure evil. Of course, this is an evil book, but our story isn’t, it’s a sad story.
[ Lala Frischknecht ]
The year 1486 was the main focus in time for Burning Witches and their research for Hexenhammer. With an ardent love for history, Frischknecht says though the band put thorough research into the events of nearly 600 years ago, they were already very familiar with its contents and the historical tales. “The Malleus Maleficarum is really famous, second [only] to the bible,” she says. “Many people know about that book.
“I asked a witch, a real one, ‘Why is it they’re asking about this?’ and she said, ‘Of course they will ask because it is an evil book, made by a crazy guy.’ That’s why maybe we had a lot of questions about it.”
Writing music to suit this story, to suit the history, also had to reflect who Burning Witches are as a band, without it being a gimmick. “Our lyrics aren’t pure evil,” begins Frischknecht, “Of course, this is an evil book, but our story isn’t, it’s a sad story.
“We also have many lyrics about human behaviour–destruction, war-making–and some witchy stuff, like our song Maneater!”
Exploring those more modern attributes, Burning Witches also feature a cover of Dio’s Holy Diver, a rendition you won’t be aware is the same song until you hear them singing the words–Burning Witches made it their own. “We play it a lot in our live shows and we noticed people like it. Holy Diver for me is like some untimely metal–everybody knows it and everybody can sing with it. A really beautiful song from a beautiful band.
“We do our own version, we don’t copy much–if you do cover, you don’t have to have 100% copy, you have to be yourself.”
Burning Witches have been stewing, brewing Hexenhammer for some time, so once the album drops the girls will hit the European roads to spread their metal and this important history. “This is good timing,” says Frischknecht, “It will be good to show the people what we’ve got in the new album and play songs from our old music.” Burning Witches don’t stop there, though, with new material already in the works and their noses in the books for more inspiring material. “[Guitarist] Romana told me, ‘I have a new song’! I said, ‘Really?!’ These girls are so fast.
“We are really motivated to making music–[vocalist] Seraina and Romana, these two aren’t lacking in ideas, they have many things in their mind! Our thing in Burning Witches is full speed!”