Nearly 20 years into their career and still getting snuffed out of the spotlight by names like Slayer and Exodus, Sweden's Witchery are hands-down one of thrash metal's best kept secrets. Comprised of core members Patrick Jensen of The Haunted, Sharlee D'Angelo of Arch Enemy and Richard Corpse formerly of Seance and Satanic Slaughter, Witchery at one point also featured in its ranks Martin Axenrot (aka Axe) of Opeth among others from the Swedish metal underground and now have six albums under their belt, some of which are considered by those in-the-know to be utter thrash classics. The positions of drummer and vocalist have been ever-revolving throughout the band's career, and the 2016 line-up of Witchery features drummer Christofer Barkensjö and new vocalist Angus Norder of Nekrokraft. Despite the line-up changes from album to album, Witchery has always remained consistent, and after a grueling six-year wait, the Swedish thrash outfit has returned with In His Infernal Majesty's Service.
Right out the gate, In His Infernal's Majesty Service will rip the listener a new one. Opening cut "Levay-athan" showcases everything that makes Witchery such an underrated bastard of a band; skin shredding riffs, furious rhythms and blackened undertones. This band is essentially the blackened, more "trve" answer to Jensen's other primary project The Haunted, but the two are completely different animals. Tracks such as "Nosferatu" and "Zoroast" with their unrelenting fury and potent riffs, make recent output from certain thrash legends look downright childish, and the same could be said for much of the album. Witchery is a band who knows what the hell they're doing; they've studied their peers meticulously and are like that one kid in class who's far more intelligent than the professor but is humble enough to never put them in their place, even though they totally could.
The band's new blood certainly does a competent job on In His Infernal Majesty's Service, but it's apparent that the band has new members. 2010's Witchkrieg was quite a memorable album, not only because or former vocalist Legion's theatrical performance, but also because of Axe's signature swing behind the kit. The best transitions with bands are the ones that are hardly noticeable, and unfortunately, Barkensjö and Norder had huge shoes to fill. That said, the quality of the album doesn't suffer as a result; rather, it just leaves the listener wondering what could have been.
Those who miss the old lineup, however, should not be steered away from this new mutation of Witchery, nor should they have any reason to. The thrash found on In His Infernal Majesty's Service is among the highest caliber the genre has to offer and gives plenty of reasons for any hesher to proudly throw their horns in the air. In a year where thrash legends Metallica and Testament have graced the metal world with new albums, there's a chance that Witchery will again fall under many a metalhead's radar; to whomever is reading this, don't let it.