Ahh, Witchcraft. I remember four years ago I saw them at Ozzfest 2008. I was totally blown away by their live set and they were one of my favorites, even back then when my tastes in metal were decidedly less refined than they are now. Shortly after they played, they seemed to disappear from the metal conscious. But now they’re back with a new album, a new member, and pretty high expectations, considering they signed to metal juggernaut Nuclear Blast Records. So the question is this: was it worth the wait?
First off, expanding the band to five members did this band good. The band has NEVER sounded this good. By letting former vocalist/guitarist Markus Pelander just focus on vocals, they added guitarist Simon Solomon. This allows the band to diversify their sound – though not too much, so don’t worry about that. The album opener, Deconstruction, just sounds dirty. It has that old school stoner vibe, but switches to a chorus that sounds like it was taken out of Ozzy’s songbook that he lost after he married Sharon. Take songs like Democracy (which actually uses the f-bomb for emphasis, not arbitrarily) which have meaty riffs, contrasted with songs like Dystopia, which sound very outlaw-ish. The Pentagram influence is still there, but certainly the band is moving in a direction that, while still very much an homage to their idols, is still very much Witchcraft. And that’s refreshing.
Like Gypsyhawk, I think this album is way too clean. I listened to The Alchemist prior to this, and I think that the dirty production would have worked equally as well here as it did there. Furthermore, like with all albums starting to make steps forward, there’s the problem with consistency. This album is no exception. All of the tracks sound great, but they’re not cohesive. It’s kind of jarring to listen to it as a whole since there is such a range of tracks here.
Overall, I think the album is a huge step in the right direction. Having that fifth member in Simon Solomon makes a big difference, and Nuclear Blast did good in signing them. I can’t wait to see where they’ll go next.
I interviewed bassist Ola Henriksson on the album. You can hear that below.