In the music journalism world, the last few months of the year are nerve-wracking.
By the time October rolls around, I’ve sorted through all of my reviews and started compiling my best-of list for the year. But the albums keep coming in, and a few of them are typically good enough to jockey for one of the bottom slots on the list.
Occasionally, though, an album comes along that throws your entire list into disarray.
In All Her Forms is one of those albums.
Smart, beautiful, heavy—In All Her Forms pushes the boundaries of what a Stoner Doom record can be, channeling the slow and low delivery of Sleep while incorporating the eclectic songwriting of Black Sabbath and actually making the acoustic guitars and piano tracks work as part of the bigger picture (instead of, for example, allowing a lovely song like “Changes” to stand out as a strange, unexpected diversion on Vol. 4).
In some ways, In All Her Forms is a concept album within a concept album, with its 12 tracks split into four thematic quadrants:
As Majestic Mountain Records explains, each section of the album contains its own narrative that ties into the other narratives on the record. And while I love storytelling, it’s then taken a step further: In All Her Forms also uses “mise en abymes”—a sort of repetition and placement of a theme or concept within itself—that creates additional depth.
About Devil’s Witches
Devil’s Witches is largely a solo project run by mastermind James Abilene out of Glasgow, Scotland.
Over the last five years, Devil’s Witches has released a string of singles, EPs, and albums, including:
- 2017 – Velvet Magic (Album)
- 2017 – Cherry Napalm (EP)
- 2017 – “Agent Orange” (Single)
- 2018 – “Magic Wand” (Single)
- 2019 – “Porno Witch” (Single)
- 2019 – Suck My Hex (EP)
- 2020 – “Guns, Drugs & Filthy Pictures” (Single)
- 2020 – “Sugar Plum” (Single)
- 2021 – “Come Play With Me” (Single)
- 2021 – “Army Dreamers” (Single)
- 2022 – In All Her Forms
Through the project’s steady output, 2019’s “Porno Witch” has firmly established itself as the most popular track, surpassing more than 1 million streams this year while honoring sex tolerance pioneer (and major project influence) Mary Millington:
Devil’s Witches – In All Her Forms Album Review
Release Date: October 28, 2022
Label: Majestic Mountain Records
The swirling, unsettling guitars of “L’image” set a doomy, uncomfortable tone for the album—a feeling that we’ll return to time and time again over the course of In All Her Forms. Like “Pussycat in a Woman’s Skin” and “Tides Upon Jupiter,” “L’image” runs under two minutes, but this track is a bit more complex with its obscure vocals and siren wailing in the background.
2. Successive Slidings of Pleasure
“Successive Slidings of Pleasure” slips from a few screeching guitar notes to a massive Doomy riffy with the slightest Space Rock vibe. This, then, is the truest essence of In All Her Forms: Though we’ll drift from fuzz-soaked riffs to acoustic numbers, “Successive Slidings of Pleasure” is the album at its very best: heavy, rough, and compelling.
Interestingly, the meat of the song concludes without warning, flipping to a gentle (but terrifying) piano that is as unsettling as an old horror movie soundtrack—one that carries us directly into “Blood of the Witch.”
3. Blood of the Witch
“Blood of the Witch” would be a soft and charming acoustic Rock song if it wasn’t for the graphic lyrical themes.
4. Pussycat in a Woman’s Skin
“Pussycat in a Woman’s Skin” is an interesting interlude track marked by a thick bass line and a meandering keyboard. It’s a fun little song, and it’s less than two minutes long.
5. Space Age Sorceress
Like “Successive Slidings of Pleasure,” “Space Age Sorceress” is another huge Doom track—in instrumentation, at least. Here, Abilene’s vocals are quite like Al Cisneros’, with a flat, chanted quality.
With that as its starting point, “Space Age Sorceress” occasionally picks up, flipping between Doom-focused chugging and upbeat Stoner Rock grooves—which eventually leads us to one of the more interesting guitar solos on the record.
6. Hunting Dracul
Within the first few ethereal notes, “Hunting Dracul” feels like another interlude track, but with a runtime of more than 4:30, it’s a bona fide song in its own right. With its mysterious guitars, haunting vocals, and a complete lack of percussion, it’s a dramatic track—as if Abilene is rising through the fog to destroy us.
7. Shadows in the Mirror
From the moment the song kicks off, “Shadows in the Mirror” is so terrifyingly layered, it sounds like a Depressive Suicidal Black Metal intro. By the time the vocals and lead guitar drift in, “Shadows in the Mirror” takes on a strange melancholic hope—an emotion that will carry us through to the end of the song.
8. Magic Mama
“Magic Mama” is a fun, upbeat song, like a fresh cover of an old Ramones song. After the deep emotive qualities of the first seven tracks, it’s a sudden twist from what’s expected on an album like In All Her Forms. Although that makes this song strangely out of place (especially with the clapping later in the song), this song is rooted back into the album via the lyrics: This is a song about adoring a woman’s body.
9. Smoke & Sorcery
Another track without percussion, “Smoke & Sorcery” feels like an interlude track, but it’s not. Instead, “Smoke & Sorcery” is an important turning point in the story of In All Her Forms, and it relies on guitars and vocals to express it.
10. Queen of Wands
“Queen of Wands” is the type of Desert Rock written to carry high-octane dune buggies over towering sand dunes. Although this song runs nearly four minutes, it’s an incredible experience that feels much shorter.
11. Tides Upon Jupiter
Running under 2:00, “Tides Upon Jupiter” is another interlude-esque track, but it stands out from the others by being purely piano—an unnerving, unpredictable song.
12. Hymn for the Supervixen
“Hymn for the Supervixen” concludes the album with an enormous Stoner Doom ride, creating a slow, steady vibe inspired by genre heroes like Sleep.
Final Thoughts On In All Her Forms
Final Score: 9.5/10
Standout Tracks: “Successive Slidings of Pleasure,” “Shadows in the Mirror,” “Queen of Wands”
Pros: This album could have fallen apart quite quickly.
The pacing is (at first glance, at least) odd, as the instrumental interludes pop up on an inconsistent basis and the flip between Stoner Doom and acoustic Retro Rock is often jarring.
But it works here on In All Her Forms.
And despite the risks taken, this is a captivating album—and a smart one at that, as listening and relistening to the record (and reading and rereading the lyrics) reveal new layers.
Cons: There’s only one song that feels strangely of our place on this record: “Magic Mama.” Instead of arriving as a Doom dirge or an acoustic number, “Magic Mama” is an almost jovial Rock song, as if imitating The Ramones or T. Rex at their catchiest—much different from the Sleep- and Black Sabbath-inspired songs on In All Her Forms.