Written by: AP on 24/12/2012 14:41:06

Before Graveyard and the growing number of other bands involved in the blossoming 70's rock revival movement there was Witchcraft, whose history dates back to the beginning of this millennium. During those 12 years the band has released four studio albums (including this latest one "Legend") as well as a series of 7" singles and EPs, and got themselves signed with the esteemed Nuclear Blast Entertainment - a venture, which has placed its mark on the band's sound on "Legend".

I must admit I am not hugely familiar with Witchcraft's past work, but from what I understand, the three first records showcased a far lesser influence of metal than is the case here. It is a change that obviously stems from their decision to sign with a major label (in the metal genre at least), and a change that sets them apart somewhat from their contemporaries. But before going on to decry the heavier sound and denser production as Witchcraft selling their soul in order to attract more listeners, I'd strongly advise giving "Legend" a spin. Because the degree to which the raw 70's magic has been reduced is not particularly significant; it still lives in the psychedelic, doom-laden soundscape by virtue of a style that oozes nostalgia regardless of how crisp it sounds on record. Granted, some of the roughness that is so essential to the sustenance of this movement has been lost, but what Witchcraft have put together here is still an excellent collection of rock songs that should please anyone who has grown tired of mass-produced plastic garbage.

Indeed, if you imagine modern post-hardcore, metalcore and alternative rock coming with a tag that says Made in China, then "Legend" should be thought of as a prestigious, hand-sown luxury product on which you can feel and smell the authenticity. "Legend" is not as jampacked with irresistible tunes as, for instance, "Hisingen Blues" or "Lights Out" by their compatriots in Graveyards, but it does bode a couple of strong highlights in "Deconstruction", "It's Not Because of You", "An Alternative to Freedom" and "Dystopia". Each of these four songs has different characteristics, the first one sounding like Black Sabbath washed with modern production; the second one coming across almost as a radio-friendly pop song with its bouncy rhythm section and sticky chorus; the third one providing a fix of slow-burning, doom-tinged stoner rock that strikes straight through to the soul; and the fourth one recalling the brilliance of Sabbath's backlog with an ominous occult feel to it.

Other than those three tracks, the remaining six (or seven, if you've picked up the bonus edition that also includes "By Your Definition") are not quite as striking, yet still instill the feeling that you're listening to real music made by real people, devoid of the frills and fanfare of modern times. As such, the vocal style of Magnus Pelander may be a tad difficult to get into at first, sounding nothing like the gruff, powerful singing that usually characterizes this genre. His voice is soft and delicate, with occasional lapses into fearsome power when he applies strain, such as is the case on the already mentioned ballad "An Alternative to Freedom", or in the album ender "Dead End". Once you acclimatize to them, however, it should become clear quite swiftly that they add a much welcome touch of psychedelia into the mix, albeit that much of Pelander's lyrical universe consists of politically charged and occult rhetoric.

Irrespective of their leaning against modern production this time, what Witchcraft have put together on "Legend" is an accomplished collection of songs. So if you can look past such a hindrance, or if you frankly consider it an advantage to have that additional punch in the mix, then "Legend" is likely to rank among your favorite albums this year. Whether you swear by the bleeding melancholia of slow songs like "White Light Suicide", progressive mammoths like "Dead End", or energetic rock songs like "Flag of Fate", the album provides enough variety to surely keep any fan of this retro rock movement interested from start to finish.


Download: Deconstruction, It's Not Because of You, An Alternative to Freedom, White Light Suicide, Dystopia, Dead End
For the fans of: Black Sabbath, Graveyard, Kadavar
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Release date 21.09.2012
Nuclear Blast Entertainment

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