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WITCHCRAFT ‘Witchcraft’ Rise Above Records (2004)

This is an album that is influenced by the roots of heavy metal, when Hendrix was twisting the blues into the kind of dark, doomy, riff heavy rock that Black Sabbath eventually made their name with. As well as Sabbath and Hendrix the most obvious influence at work here is Pentagram, in fact I’m sure that I could pass this album off as a collection of previously unreleased Pentagram material without too much trouble and it comes as no surprise to learn that track 3, ‘Please Don’t Forget Me’ is actually a cover of Bobby Leibling’s pre-Pentagram band Stone Bunny.

There are some wonderful acoustic, almost Jethro Tull-esque acoustic folk/prog moments scattered throughout this album, the Tull influence spreading so far as to including a flute part in closing number ‘Her Sisters They Were Weak’. The subtle violin melody in the middle of opening song ‘Witchcraft’ lends it an almost My Dying Bride like feel and several songs have an almost medieval melody running through them.

The first time I listened to this album I had to check very carefully when it was recorded such is the attention to detail paid to recreating the classic 70s Hard Rock/Heavy Metal sound with the gently overdriven guitars and the warm, fuzzy bass sound. In fact it’s almost a disappointment that my review copy is on CD and not vinyl!

There’s nothing in the way of groundbreaking originality on offer here, but it is superbly written and arranged and there’s no doubting the quality of the band’s performance. In fact in a similar way to Bill Steer’s Firebird, Witchcraft have managed to make music that is stylistically 30 years or more old sound relevant and vital again and prove that while trends come and go the roots always remain, and when it’s done this well why bother arguing, just sit back and enjoy the ride!


Review by Neil Woodfin

***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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