Review Summary: With an excellent blend of stoner, psychedelic, and doom, Witchcraft will surely take you back to the 70s.
When asked about the birth of doom metal (or heavy metal in general), most people will most likely point their fingers at Birmingham-based act Black Sabbath with their scathing blues rock style. So, naturally, dozens of bands nowadays try to imitate their role models, either to simply regurgitate their sound or to actually bring the power and energy of 70s rock back. Swedish hard rockers Witchcraft belong with the latter group, creating an excellent blend of stoner, psychedelic, and doom that will surely take you back to the 70s.
In fact, Witchcraft does not recall Black Sabbath as much as one would expect. Since their self-titled debut in 2004, they lessened the doom influences, instead opting for a more traditional hard rock style with a lot of psychedelic influences. Still, Black Sabbath, alongside doom pioneers Pentagram, are the most obvious influences here. You are clearly reminded of those powerhouses throughout Firewood
, their second album just a year after their debut, especially due to working in a basement studio with vintage equipment, perfectly recapturing the sound of the seventies in the way. Opener and first single "Chylde of Fire", with its catchy guitar riffs, upbeat bass, and pounding drums, already creates that nostalgic feeling Witchcraft aims for and once captivated by its charm, Firewood
never lets go. Be it the thrilling "Mr. Haze" with its changing song tempos, the most Sabbath-esque slow-burners "Queen of Bees" and "I See a Man" or the more straightforwardly rocking "Attention!", you have no chance but to be amazed at how charming and direfully listenable this album is. They even show homage to their archetypes with the hidden track and Pentagram cover "When the Screams Come" which fits into the album extremely well , but lacks the crushing riffs and the mellow yet heavy sound of the original.
Alongside the supremely done riffs and vivid bass lines spread throughout the whole album, the voice and range of vocalist Magnus Pelander, reminiscent of Pentagram frontman Bobby "Plugie" Liebling, is the main draw here. Highly accented and pretty bizarre at first, his soaring voice slowly takes you over and show its beauty, especially in "Sorrow Evoker's" first half, in which he shines with a brilliant vocal performance, being simply accompanied with an acoustic guitar. To avoid a completely monotonous listen (both Magnus' voice and the riffs can get bland in the whole run), small doses of experimental bits can be found throughout Firewood
. The already mentioned song tempo changes during "Mr. Haze", a much-welcomed relief and gives it distinguishable traits, the comparatively upbeat and short "Merlin's Daughter" which divides the record, as well as the flute used midway in "Sorrow Evoker" all help in diversifying Witchcraft's sound.
Unlike many of their contemporaries, they truly recapture the sound of their influences, while adding splendid songwriting, artful playing and a genuine atmosphere. And although creativity is still not something they are brilliant at, sounding like nothing more than a mirror image of Black Sabbath and Pentagram on paper, Witchcraft created an unique sound with Firewood
Recommended Tracks: If Wishes Were Horses, Mr. Haze, Sorrow Evoker