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One Eyed Doll - Witches

One Eyed Doll - CD Review




CD Info
Standby Records
11 tracks
English lyrics


At the risk of sounding aloof and overbearing, I’m something of an expert on the subject of witches. I’ve been married to two of them, well, of a sort, that is. I’ve been involved with a number of others (Pagan priestesses are often referred to as witches within the coven) with somewhat better, if more temporary, results. And I’m a big fan of the Russian band Blackthorn, 5 witches from Moscow. But, I humbly bow to those who may be my factual superiors on the topic. And, with this release, One Eyed Doll has clearly proven a level of credibility on the subject to surpass my obviously over rated level of expertise.

Witches is based on a thoroughly researched investigation into the Salem (Mass.) Witchcraft Trials that took place circa 1692, 93. Now, I’ve been to Salem, met a lovely lass there who was anything but a witch, so I know a little about the terrain. These days its just a lovely little town not far from Cape Ann where I lived for a time while working for corporate America in the Boston area. But, back in the day, it was the scene of one of the darkest episodes in American history, at least up until now. I suspect the Tea Party has the potential to surpass those dark, dire days and is clearly doing everything in it’s power to exceed those expectations. But, I digress.

I think it appropriate to look at this release from two completely different perspectives: the first being the music, which is often of moderate importance to followers of this site, the second, and possibly of more importance, at least with this release, is the narrative which is based on the actual events taking place in the late 1600s. One Eyed Doll has based the lyrics for this release, in part, directly on printed transcripts from the events of that day. They are sometimes word for word. Which will have more relevancy shortly, as we examine the evidence and consider the implications of the facts related to those events. Oh, I do love a good drug related story, especially one that involves the slaughter of myriad young women of complete innocence at the hands of religiously insane Christians doing the work of the Lord.

To be clear here, One Eyed Doll is 2 people. The first is vocalist Kimberly Freeman who also does the heavy lifting with the guitars, and she is pretty good. The second one is Jason Rufuss Sewell , also known as Junior, for some unknown reason. He does the drums, and pretty much everything else you hear which can, at times, include significant amounts of sound. And this can, under various circumstances, take us to some significant metal. I’m guessing Junior knows his way around a bass and some other instruments, both of the traditional kind and also those more closely associated with witchcraft of one sort or another.

The vocals take multiple directions. Our lovely vocalist can do the lovely with the best of them. But, when required, she can go in directions more closely associated with the demon beast. And, that’s something you can also say about the instrumental accompaniment. It can be lovely, or it can sound like something from the depths of witchcraft hell. Works for me. But, with this release, the intention is telling the tale. So, depending on the nature of the lyric, we can cover a multitude of musical directions.

Ok, lets’s look at individual tracts and try to follow the arguments. Remember, this is a story of witchcraft, this is a story that is trying to prove a point. And, it ain’t a pretty argument. We begin with Ember, a short track that clearly indicates that this will be a journey into territory that we haven’t much experience with. There’s a world of insanity here. We’ve left the Gothic behind, the World of the Witch beckons us. Get ready for the ride.

I should point out here, I don’t have all the lyrics. The band was on the road and not in a position to do much and their PR guy wasn’t particularly responsive, as in dead. Which is unfortunate. It’s hard to get a true interpretation of this work without closely following the lyrics. Fortunately, the vocals are particularly easy to understand so you can follow the story, if you have the release. I do have lyrics from a couple tracks, and they suggest a fine telling.

Following Ember, which was introduced with a lovely rendition of an 17th century preacher anticipating a Tea Party Republican at the upcoming Republican National Convention, we move directly to Prayer. Here, one can assume, we’re getting background regarding the circumstances that lead to the events. There was some strange sickness about, and the local population was looking for reasons, or was it excuses:

Prayer / Save us,
Save us from the serpent's plan to enslave us,
To take us / To take us to his kingdom of darkness,
Faithless, / The faithless soul is sickened with desire, To conspire,
With the one who brings our child fever, Enrage us,
Give us strength to murder in your service,
With sharpen crucifix, / May the rivers flood with the blood of the damned

With this one we get the lovely in the vocals. This is as fine a ballad as you could expect to hear, especially when the topic is witchcraft. You get this with several tracks, Stillness, for instance, where the tone is remorseful and pleading when not condemning.

But, with the following track, the band suggests solutions. I have a fine little video of this track where the band actually explains what many have come to believe is the answer. And the answer is Lysergic acid diethylamide, better known to some as LSD. Now I have heard this explanation myself from a master on the subject, one Tim Leary at a presentation during my undergraduate days during the very heavily drug infested days of the 60s. The theory is that LSD can be a result of a grain fungus that can, under certain circumstances, grow on rye, maybe a little more complicated than that but that’s the basis of the idea. Believe me, thousands of undergraduates were buying rye bread and leaving it out in the Florida heat in an attempt to cut the cost of doing business with their drug suppliers. None actually accomplished anything, other than stomach cramps, as far as I know, but it sure made chemistry classes more popular. Well, Black in the Rye tells the story in a full metal jacket:

Something's very strange, up at Salem Town something's going down
Lately things have changed in Salem Town, I see it all around

Poison in the sky, black in the rye / Crops have died, black in the rye
I know why, black in the rye / She must die, black in the rye

Black magic spells, / sickness growing stronger everyday
A witch among us dwells, / the reason for this plague of disarray


The following tracks tell the story from a number of perspectives. A Rope for Mary tells of a “good wife, my children were my life”. But, the rope awaits. Witch Hunt takes another look, from another participant, with a different set of assumptions. The release concludes with The Ghosts of Gallows Hill, a haunting track that provides a final commentary from the sacrificed young women of Salem.

Many tracks sure sound like a full band, this is well produced and, based on the videos, they do a solid live performance. But they are there to tell the story, and do so with the required level of understanding.

Always nice to learn a little about the world, and when it’s done with solid music, it’s all the more attractive. Witchcraft never sounded better.