Album of the Day: Witchcraft’s Legend
This band, and album, was only recently brought to my attention — but had I heard it sooner, it would’ve been a definite contender for my 2012 best-of list. That probably means nothing to most, since everyone has their own opinions on what merits the dubious honor of being named someone’s top release from the year. However, Witchcraft deserves some attention. And so here it is:
It seems trends come and die faster now than they ever did. Occult-tinged rock/metal seems to be the newest fad, and though I am a fan of it, I do feel the occasional “Another one?!” groan. But while Witchcraft does fit into the category, they’re so riff-heavy and energetic that they’re the last band I’d accuse of putting anyone in a doom coma. Each song is a soulful mix of folky rock and psychedelic meanderings, topped off with a gritty Thin Lizzy-meets-Black Sabbath hardness.
“Deconstruction” starts off the album with crushing, stoner-edged guitars, but then the band transitions into the main rhythm and Holy God. These are the kinds of electrifying riffs that one should feel have played to death, but somehow Witchcraft make them seem fresh and just plain good. It’s the sort of orchestration that makes you know, just know, this is going to be a special album.
And though lead singer Magnus Pelander’s vocals are the anchor for all of the songs, they’re perhaps most commendable on “Flag of Fate.” Pelander has the kind of voice that stirs something in the back of your head because it sounds so familiar. But it’s so fluid that while it may remind of others (it has shades of Layne Staley, of all people, in this particular song), he’s still very much himself.
What I love most about this album is that every song sounds so different. They run the gamut of influences from Pentagram (fitting, as they first started as a tribute band for that group) to Led Zeppelin to Uriah Heep, but the harmonies and vocals pull everything so tightly together that it works. “It’s Not Because of You” has my favorite chorus on the album — its funk-meets-garage rock works so well when paired with the pop song melody and rolling drums. “White Light Suicide,” which comes a few songs later, is what UFO would’ve sounded like if they were from Seattle in the ‘90s. But then the atmospheric rise-and-fall doom tones coat every song and firmly make sure that they don’t just sound like retro retreads.
“Dead-End,” the twelve-minute beast that finishes up the album, features plodding doom sounds and Doors-esque howls and bass-only tension that gives way to crushing guitars. It’s an apt finale. Witchcraft may have started out as a tribute band for Pentagram, but in their twelve-year career, I think they’ve definitely carved out a place for themselves.
Legend is out now on Nuclear Blast. You can buy it here.