Witchcraft: Born Thirty Years Too Late
By Michael Bennett
LONDON, ENGLAND, UK - It's fair to say that WITCHCRAFT are not of this time & space.
In fact, it's safe to say that they were born at least 30 years too late.
At least that's the way it seems on the band's self-titled debut album, recently released on Rise Above Records.
That's not necessarily a bad thing, though.
It's also safe to say that Witchcraft plays dark rock music the way it's supposed to be played - effortlessly heavy yet relaxed.
With these guys, it just comes naturally without ever sounding forced.
The four evil gypsies who combine to form the Witchcraft magic are seemingly unaffected by today's technology and tired excuse for rock music, where "new for nu's sake" equals boring and fake.
And, with the album "Witchcraft," they have come together to create something as close to pure as you can get in modern rock music.
Witchcraft mastermind Magnus Pelander has been an active member of the Swedish Doom scene for some time now despite his youthful age, and initially started the band as a tribute to former 13th Floor Elevators legend Roky Erickson and vintage Doom rocker Bobby Liebling of cult legends Pentagram.
In 2002, Witchcraft (essentially Magnus aided by friends from the local music scene in Orebro) released a limited 7" pressing of the insistent Sabbath meets Stones strut of 'No Angel Or Demon' on the Swedish underground label Primitive Art.
Rise Above Records were so amazed by what they heard that they signed the band immediately on the strength of this slab of wax alone and even begged for the song's inclusion, in it's original form, on the band's new debut album.
In early 2003 the band -- now completed by drummer Jonas Arnesen, guitarist John Hoyles and bass player Ola Henriksson (the latter two also appeared on the 7" release) -- began assembling vintage 60's & 70's recording equipment in a basement and started work, with producer Jens Henriksson, on their new album.
"Witchcraft" is a record which conjures up the macabre essence of vintage Pentagram and, of course Black Sabbath whilst incorporating influences as wide apart as the Jethro Tull-esque folky prog of 'Her Sisters They Were Weak,' and the bludgen riffing style of early 70's Bang in 'I Want You To Know.'
Elsewhere, 'Schyssta Logner' evokes memories of Sweden's original hard rocking progsters Novembre, and the inclusion of the cover 'Please Don't Forget Me' from Bobby Leibling's 1970 pre-Pentagram outfit Stone Bunny pays further homage to Leibling's criminally overlooked genius.
While many of their, more generic, contemporaries are more conservative in their approach, Witchcraft are a band that can swing effortlessly from orthodox doom to blues, folk and jazz whilst always remaining shrouded in the cloak of influence from some of the more obscure moments of the 70's cult rock underground.
Yet somehow, despite not adhering to any blueprint, the Witchcraft sound is purer than nearly any other band in the doom scene today.
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