Although they have been on the music scene for only two years, sludge/doom metal band Vagina Witchcraft has established themselves with their music and social presence, which are two aspects lead singer Kayla Fernandes says were always the band’s focus.
“I would definitely describe our music as a battle cry, a plea for understanding in a world filled with ignorance and intolerance,” they say.
“When we started the band, I ... wanted us to be vocal about things that were really important and things that were going on in our society, like the disproportionate arrests of Black and Indigenous people (in the United States and Canada, and the systemic racism highlighted in) Nova Scotia right now.
“I think it is important to recognize that we had a purpose going into it, and we are very much sticking to that, and it is something that we are all very passionate about.”
Fernandes says the idea of the band spawned after an encounter at Manitoba Metalfest in 2018 with Cancer Bats.
“I got pulled up on the stage during one of their songs, and I sang a piece with them, and it went pretty well. A couple weeks later, my partner Dylan Sellar and I had been practising quite a bit, my poetry with his music, and we were then contacted by Mike Peters, the drummer of Cancer Bats and AGAPITO.
“He asked me if I was in a band, and if we were willing to play with AGAPITO and Vampire and Witchtrip, so Dylan contacted his friends Julien Riel and Seppel Saünlust, and we became a band. We played our first show Aug. 31, 2018 with them at the Good Will Social Club, and the rest is history.”
The band’s debut album, Vagina Witchcraft, was released on Oct. 20, 2020. Described by Cancer Bat’s lead singer Liam Cormier as having a “Sabbath/Pentagram style riff worship,” the band stays true to the subgenre with their heavy guitar riffs, crashing cymbals and distinct screaming vocals.
But beneath this, there is something more: a clear progression throughout the songs that not only address social issues, but also personal growth and stability, and Fernandes gives some background into songs “Pyro,” “Mercury” and “Alvvays.”
“To me, ‘Pyro’ is about spending most of your time swallowing everything around you, and having it suffocate you to the point of not being able to breathe. The chorus, which is ‘set me on fire, so I may burn myself into your memory,’ is just being so exasperated at the thought of swallowing everything that you just want to disappear and spontaneously combust.
“‘Mercury’ was basically an exclamation of independence, a blatant and powerful way of saying ‘I am able to do this,’ and that ‘I do not need this abuse, bondage and violence in order for me to thrive,’” they say.
“And I think that I needed this message to be conveyed first, and I wanted the lasting message of ‘Alvvays’ to be of picking up pieces of something that was frayed and broken, so it can remain whole at the end.”
Vagina Witchcraft’s self-titled EP is available at vaginawitchcraft.bandcamp.com.
Published in Volume 75, Number 08 of The Uniter (November 5, 2020)