San Francisco Bay Area of California has given us a lot of famous metal bands such as Testament and Metallica and now, we are presented with the gothic metal duo known as Arcane Ritual. Formed in 2015, the group released their debut EP Enemy of the State in 2017. Two years later, we are gifted Witch-Heart as their debut full length. Listening to this album, it is hard to believe that multi-instrumentalist Jarek Tatarek and vocalist Teresa Camp put together such a moving release. Each track is haunting, emotional and just a breath of fresh air from most usual gothic metal out there these days.
These tracks change and bring a different experience with each one. The track Witch-Heart has that true gothic metal vibe reminiscent of Tristania with both the vocals and instrumentals. Camp’s vocal range is surprising and perfectly fitting with each track as she can both fit that thrashy and doomy sound of the transitioning riffs while adding a unique take on the gothic elements. The final track The Long Good Bye brings in a dark, acoustic touch to close off the album with what can only be described as emotional and heartfelt.
This album drips out pure emotion while keeping a heavy style that does not let go. Each part ties in perfectly making this truly a magical album. The only small flaw in my view is the production could be a bit better but it does not take away from the beauty of this album and the epic guitar work that Tatarek offers. The solos, the interludes, piano work and Camp’s ethereal voice lend to this album make this a piece of gothic metal art I’d put up next to Tristania, Trees of Eternity and After Dark. This album is something I’m positive would please any true fan of gothic metal and Arcane Ritual is a band I look forward to hearing many more albums from in the future.
Overall Score: 8.5/10
Review by Neil Andersen