Review : Witchcraft - Witchcraft / Firewood / The Alchemist Reissues
Ebot's a long journey from paying tribute to being tribute-worthy oneself. It's a common pitfall among many artists: hamstringing themselves with their own sense of reverence toward their idols, as if adding something of their own to the combined legacy constitutes an actual diluting of the idol's purity somehow. ...full text
PopmattersMagnus Pelander formed Witchcraft in 2000 with the ambition of creating a one-off homage to Pentagram’s ghostly enigma Bobby Liebling and the psychedelic sultan known as Roky Erickson—two artists whom he had a profound respect for. But from the moment tribute single “No Angel or Demon” was heard by Lee Dorrian (head of English record label Rise Above), Witchcraft began to flower into a band capable of lifting the hearts of those dismayed by sterile, modern recordings and bands who lack substance in both sound and content. Just like their forefathers in Black Sabbath, Witchcraft hold a certain aura—a quaint manner shrouded by a peculiar spectre that hides in the darkness almost bordering on the occult, but in no way expressively so. There is a sense of foreboding found within the lyrics and to a lesser extent—the music. Such observations mainly come from the reserved way in which they conduct themselves, their look, and how they were seemingly conjured and arrived in a cloud of mystery. And this intrigue has added to Witchcraft’s appeal without overshadowing the brilliance found in their music.
Eight years after the release of their eponymous debut, Witchcraft are set to de-robe their long-awaited fourth LP Legend this September, via Nuclear Blast—five years after their last album The Alchemist. In conjunction with this anticipated release, Metal Blade have reissued their three LPs—and in doing so—have thankfully re-illuminated Witchcraft’s doomy, psych-infused rock for the benefit of those who may have missed the magical Swedes the first time round.
Upon its release in 2004, debut Witchcraft was a breath of fresh air and even though it was solely intended to be a tribute to Pentagram (“Please Don’t Forget Me” and “Yes I Do” were written by Bobby Liebling), it has since proved a factor in the resurgence in popularity of vintage doom/psychedelic rock. This LP has also been publicised as being the catalyst for reunion of supergroup Down, who re-bonded over their love for what they heard and promoted Witchcraft with fan-boy fervour. From the second Pelander announces “Witchcraft: take one,” the band take you on a charming trip through corridors of smoky riffs, with Pelander’s aloof caterwaul leading the way. In stark contrast to the soulless production that was becoming more prevalent at the time of its release, Witchcraft wraps itself in warm, welcoming tones indicative of the ‘70s rock and proto-doom—a musty sound which thinly veils the guitars, accentuates the looseness of the rhythm section and rounds off the vintage vibes of the album. All of this comes adorned by the aesthetically pleasing print called “Merlin” by Aubrey Beardsley for a 1893-94 edition of Sir Thomas Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur; a cover which looks as if it was fashioned solely for the album and perfectly captures the essence of the band in one distinctive image....full text
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