I was going back and forth between doing a video review on all Witchcraft albums or write up something for each release individually. Well, I will probably end up doing both, but for now, allow me to share my thoughts on the band’s third record: Witchcraft – The Alchemist.
I discovered the group not too long ago, more or less by accident. After listening to a couple of their tracks on i-tunes, I decided to download their albums Witchcraft, Firewood and later on their newest album, Legend. After listening to their music for a few weeks in a row, I now added The Alchemist, which got released in 2007 to complete the collection. In retrospect, I can assure you that that was a good decision, actually a very good one.
Let’s do the logistics first, here is the track-list of Witchcraft – The Alchemist:
1. “Walk Between the Lines” – 3:24
2. “If Crimson Was Your Colour” – 3:47
3. “Leva” – 4:33
4. “Hey Doctor” – 5:12
5. “Samaritan Burden” – 6:27
6. “Remembered” – 5:14
7. “The Alchemist (parts 1, 2 & 3)” – 14:38
The line-up of the band:
Magnus Pelander – vocals, electric guitar
John Hoyles – electric and acoustic guitars
Ola Hendriksson – bass
Fredrik Jansson – drums
Additional Musicians: Tom Hakava (mellotron, wersi, upright piano, pump organ and percussion), Anders Andersson (saxophone)
The Alchemist, to me, is a logically continuation of Witchcraft’s progress. While it tags on to its predecessors, I personally noticed a lot of, sometimes seeming subtle new nuances on the seven tracks. Despite the new elements, the band did not compromise their foundation, which is ultimately why I love their music so much. I am not a huge fan of all the categorizations when it comes to genres – but Witchcraft is often associated doom metal, stoner metal, psychedelic folk rock, etc. To be perfectly honest with you, I don’t even know what all of that actually means, let alone if there’s any noteworthy benefit of bucketing a band – any band for that matter – into a certain category. Witchcraft – The Alchemist, to me it’s simply Rock, admittedly with a unique character.
There’s a lot of talk among fans and critics when it comes to Witchcraft’s “retro-sound”. I refuse to partake in any of that. While I obviously have my personally musical and sound preferences, first and foremost in early Black Sabbath productions, I think it would be inadequate to make statements such as: Witchcraft just sounds like XYZ. Undisputedly, there are influences that manifest in their arrangements but I think people are way too much concerned about trying to put a certain stamp on the band.
Witchcraft – The Alchemist is raw, yet not unsophisticated. A perfect example is the track “Remembered” which starts out with a “dancy” (Magnus Pelander quote) lick, followed by a riff that sucker punched me when I heard it for the first time and still does now after I listened to it on a daily basis since. Tempo changes, key and theme variations, sometimes completely unexpected, yet perfectly fitting into the whole concept. I am not one for “favorite tracks”, but “Hey Doctor” is certainly the tune that lyrically impressed me the most. I will not talk about the meaning of the words, because that is completely up to the individual listener; however, as a cancer patient and husband of wife who battled with cancer, they certainly struck a chord with me.
Witchcraft – The Alchemist is a special album that will definitely remain among my personal evergreens. I am glad that I got it for myself, because otherwise I would have missed out on something special. There is however, an certain degree of unfairness involved here – not only does Sweden seem to have some great soil to raise good musicians, they also got Jan-Ove Waldner, Mikael Appelgren, Joergen Persson….(that’s an insider and it will only make sense to you if you’re addicted to little white and orange celluloid balls).
To sum-up: if you don’t already have the album, go and get it. You will not regret it, I will go as far as giving you that as a promise.