Witchcraft – “Nucleus” (Nuclear Blast Records)
Awesome Swedish epic doom! Witchcraft have been around since the turn of the century during which time they’ve gone through various evolutions, flirting more or less with psychedelia, stoner, and of course doom but this current line up, which see’s the band employing two guitarists in addition to long time members vocalist Magnus Pelander and bassist Ola Henriksson works a treat! With an expanded sound and Pelander now free to concentrate on his hitherto underestimated vocals, Witchcraft have come into their own on this album. It’s like they’ve taken the best from the past and combined it into deep but incredibly soulful compositions that are breathtakingly epic. Taking the trademark doom style of warbling bottom end riffs brewed by evil Tony Iommi, new guitarists Simon Solomon and Tom Jondelius then show their own tasteful talent in adding exquisite melodies, sometimes dark like on ‘The Obsessed’ while elsewhere unashamedly uplifting like on the stunning ‘The Outcast’ – oh man the rollin’ groove on this is something special with Pelander’s laid back vocals standing comfortably between ethereal flutes, delicately plucked strings and of course, heaps of wah once it gets going – yeh baby! There is no hurry on this album, not for you, not for me, and most of all, the band who clearly want you to enjoy this – even with the guitars and vocals very up front in the mix it doesn’t detract from the rhythm given the overall heaviness of the lengthier, more epic material. When Pelander formed the band as an initial tribute to Bobby Liebling 16 years ago, that hasn’t been forgotten even to this day in the wild insanity of the aptly titled closer ‘Helpless’ with its ultra raw feedback guitar and wild, flailing vocals, making for one very cool album indeed. Just into a new year and already we have the bar raising (hell) thanks to Witchcraft!