Rise Above Records
Paula Hogan is a publicist friend of mine. In her duties promoting metal around the globe, she occasionally represents some reissued music from bands that I just flat out missed 15-20 years ago. For example, when the Bursum catalog was reissued a few years ago, it was all new to me. That being said, I received the latest release from Witchcraft recently. After a listen through, I was stunned to hear that this was a current band, and not a band from the early '70s. This band, with it's mediocre production and it's Pentagram-wannabe sound, clearly could have done some damage in 1972.
But it's 2005, and not 1972. Sadly, that doesn't bode well for this act. That being said though, I love the classic, muddy stoner sound...and Witchcraft capture just that on FIREWOOD. Full of murky vibe, fuzzed out guitar and anthemic tunes, there's no denying that these guys are making great music. Songs like "Wooden Cross (I Can't Wake The Dead") are an interesting cross between early Black Sabbath and late-era Doors. Vocalist Magnus Pelander really has a cool voice that would have fit perfectly back in that era of music. His heavy balls-sound on songs like "Mr. Haze" will remind you of half the music you ear in between Van Halen and Pink Floyd on your favorite classic rock station. He also teams well on guitar with John Hoyles. These two obviously have studied every riff Tony Iommi has ever played. Songs like "Queen Of Bees" sound so much like Black Sabbath that you have to take notice of them. Give the band extra credit as well for their excellent cover of Pentagram's "When The Screams Come". Overall, this is a very cool band that probably weren't even born when their influences ruled the world!
RATING - 8/10 - The get big points for not sounding forced into this style. This is what these guys are. As much as I like this, you have to knock off a few points for sounding like this was recorded on a 1971 rig instead of taking advantage of some of today's technology (I mean, I'm all for analog and dirty sound...but listening back to PARANOID just makes you think that it took a lot less to entertain music fans back then). Still, this is really good if you are a Black Sabbath or Pentagram fan in need of a new fix of old school.