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