Swiss quintet Burning Witches are back with a new album, Hexenhammer, and very nice the whole thing is too.

Built around the commanding vocals of Seraina Telli, who of course attracts comparison with Doro Pesch but is actually a far more interesting proposition than that, Hexenhammer is one of those albums you might find yourself filing under ‘heavy metal easy listening’. Nothing here is in the least demanding on the ears, the band (alongside mentor Schmeir from Destruction and producer V.O. Pulver) creating a sort of everywoman metal designed to snare any and all who come into contact with it. At it’s best, the album can be truly inspiring; Dead Ender in particular is a muscular piece of true metal in the grand tradition of Manowar, Dio and Iced Earth that really resonates with its dramatic use of tubular bells and Telli’s convincing screams. But elsewhere the band seem content merely to write material in the style of the Gods rather than trying to carve themselves their own place on the Pantheon.

The title track is a case in point. It motors along nicely, Telli again front and centre but ably supported by some nice chugging riffage from Roman Kalkuhl and new arrival Sonia Nusselder and possessing a nice melodic pre-chorus which resembles Schmeir’s out-of-school project Panzer. Everything is in place here to take the song to the heights, but there’s something lacking, a paucity of ambition meaning that the track is merely very good when it has the potential for greatness.

Executed suffers a similar fate, but the bones of something truly special are evident anywhere you care to look, especially on the heavy-yet-melodic Possession. Burning Witches, like many talented young bands in 2018, are doomed to do a fair bit of their growing up in public, which is never a particularly satisfactory state of affairs. But once they actually find a groove that is one hundred per cent them and not merely mostly the sum of their influences, you can be sure they’ll deliver the goods in spades. For now, though, this is enjoyable enough.

Nuclear Blast will release Burning Witches’ Hexenhammer on November 9th.