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on 16 December 2007
Swedish band Witchcraft were originally formed as a sort of tribute to 70's Virginia based doom band Pentagram. The band's work ethic is based around reproducing or replecating Pentagram & other 70's band's such as Iron Butterfly to create their own brand of authentic & nostalgic rock/doom. In fact, the band played a gig in 2006 covering two Pentagram songs with guest vocals by Bobby Liebling, the original Pentagram singer/founding member.

While this is the bands third release, on Lee Dorrian's Rise Above records (also home to Electric Wizard & the brillant Welsh band Taint) this is my first dose of Witchcraft & whilst avoiding using any terrible puns, the album is simply magnificent. Similar to the most recent release by Electric Wizard, the album is so authentic & warmly produced, sounding just like a record by any number of the 70's bands Witchcraft cite as their influences. Frontman Magnus Pelander has a superb voice & the producer, as well as the rest of the band, know it. His vocals sit clearly upfront in the mix, while the rest of the band effortlessly create sheer brillance around him. No one tune has a specific chorus or vocal section, whilst all of them are extememly catchy. The melodies twist & turn, keeping you listening & bringing constant reasons to delve into the album time & again. Opener 'Walk Between The Lines', sets the stage in grand fashion acting as a solid example of how every track works. The simple formula of bass-guitar-drums is stretched to maximum effect, producing pretty uptempo rock with a slight hint of prog such as in 'Remembered' (whch contains a very jazzy bit of saxophone from Anders Andersson) & the 13 odd minute closer 'The Alchemist'. The lyrics, whilst being slightly on the kooky, mythological side ('Within the darkest hour, when the dragon releases it's power') are also brillant, perfectly capturing the antique quality of the music.

My personal favourites are 'Walk between the Lines', 'Hey Doctor' & the excellent 'Samaritan Burden' which strangely reminds me of Tool. Really though, every track is a keeper & the initial dissappointment of there only being 7 tracks on the album becomes irrelevant when you spend time with them. An absolutely amazing album, well deserving of the five stars & other top reviews it received upon release (Terrorizer magazine gave it 9/10 & album of the month!). True musical gold.
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If you want to be technical, an alchemist transforms base metals into gold -- or at least, that's what they tried to do.

Well, Witchcraft's dark, grimy stoner-rock was hardly "base metal" to begin with -- no pun intended -- but the Swedish band are even more polished in their third full-length album, "The Alchemist." Lots of heavy blazing stoner-rock tinged with metal and blues, but faster and more energetic than in their last album.

I started getting uneasy with the first song, "Walk Between the Lines," a relatively sprightly song full of twisting guitar and nimble drums. For Witchcraft, this is positively poppy, but it has the hard edges to keep you listening, especially when Magnus Pelander is unleashing his dramatic, sinuous vocals.

Then things REALLY get moving with the fiery, driven doom-rocker "If Crimson Was Your Colour." The songs that follow are a bit more in the vein of their past releases -- grimy, retro-flavoured stoner hard-rock, with slowly twisting riffs and intense melodies. But they are a little faster and more energetic than before, and the sound suits them.

Things do pep up a little in the last quarter with the energetic "Remembered." But the album really blossoms with the fifteen-minute finale: a solid stoner-rocker that dissolves into a melodious, airy little guitar tune laced with watery synth. Then it picks up steam again, and grinds back into a rapid-fire hard-rocker... and ends with a lonely little riff.

"The Alchemist" is a bit more friendly to new listeners than Witchcraft's past two albums. But they haven't sacrificed more than a little of their brooding stoner-rock sound -- it's still driving hard-rock with a doom edge, as well as heavy doses of blues-rock and psychedelica. Think the Black Angels meet Wolfmother.

Each song is driven by gut-grinding, fuzzy basslines with lots of sizzling, twisting guitar riffs, and Pelander, Ola Henriksson and John Hoyles twist those instruments into a hazy, unstoppable storm. As if the seventies doom-rock weren't enough , they line a few of the songs with Fredrik Jansson's solid drums, jazzy trumpet, and some colourful retro keyboard.

That retro feeling isn't hurt by Pelander -- think Jim Morrison, but far more dramatic. He's got the vocal strength to roar above the louder songs ("Imposter without knowing/Your belief's been defiled!"), but a smooth, sensual enough voice for the softer songs. And he sings some excellent, vaguely poetic songs about fantasy staples -- dragons, the lifetimes of kingdoms, magicians and temples.

"The Alchemist" isn't pure gold, but it's a solid nugget of powerful hard rock, with a bluesy retro flavour. Definitely casts a spell.
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on 16 April 2008
The general view seems to be that witchcraft are doom metal,i dont see that at all here,some stylings perhaps but this isnt doom,no sir,this is kinda groove rock with a trippy nature that isnt intrusive really,folky in parts but never sustained ,just good time rock n roll,yes they were heavier once upon a time but to call this doom is plain lazy.
Witchcraft hail from sweden but this album has an american feel to it,think of the 1970s rock movement and we are half way there,groovy riffs played at a fast enough pace with a vocalist that sounds alot like jim morrison and danzig,yeah that isnt a bad example at all,throw in an assortment of instruments such as organ and saxophone and you are starting to understand the feeling that this album wishes to create.
As decent an album as this is,its fair to say that it opens with perhaps the worst track on here,mind you there are only 7 tracks,'walk between the lines' just grates at me,i dont like it,i have tried,some elements are pleasing but as a whole it is a weak opener,but then we get a cracking wee track in 'if crimson was your colour',this is a great nippy song that gets pulses racing,i am also very fond of 'hey doctor' and 'remembered' and the epic final track which clocks in at 14 minutes or so is a good track,at first it outstays its welcome then it shifts gears and we are left with a very memorable song indeed.
This isnt a perfect album but there is some good stuff to treasure nonetheless,a less established band from england called gentlemens pistols have done this ode to the 70s better in my opinion but this is solid enough,3 stars.
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on 22 August 2009
As others have noted, this is essentially derivative of late 60s, early 70s blues-rock. To my ears it follows the tradition developed by Cream and then Black Sabbath, with a tendency towards the heavier side. This is not a bad thing at all, and if you like that sound there's plenty to like here. It has a raw blues power trio feel, heavy and somewhat psychedelic, with occult or fantasy themes - it's a winning formula, and these guys do add something of their own to it. For starters there are two guitars and occasionally other, more unexpected instruments.

I can't comment on Witchcraft's other releases, but I really like this album. Don't buy it expecting metal though - think early Sabbath. Riffs are properly heavy and sometimes really doomy, though guitars sound relatively clean by today's standards; there are occasional short organ or mellotron solos, even one from a saxophone (but don't let that put you off! More often the solo comes from a wah-wah'd guitar); the vocals are reminiscent of Clapton's in Cream. Having said all that, it manages to sound quite evil, and this contrasts well with lighter elements.
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on 9 June 2011
...just listen when The Magus, magnus p, starts to sing on the second track, "If Crimson was your colour"... "kind of" sounds like The Doors, don't you think? Creepy...

This band reminds me of a few great bands from the seventies, but still: they DO have their OWN thing going all the time, even the obligatory swedish lyrics is there on one of the tracks, witch (sic) is also great, of course.

This is a distinct band, carving themselves their own little space in the stone wall of rock history.

I bought The Alchemist on vinyl lately, and the vinyl was black as expected, but still NOT... the black vinyl was (and still is) full of "bright holes" in it! It seems they put all these small pieces of gold (or silver?) in the vinyl-mixture. Weird to discover, but nice too, because it does NOT make the vinyl make cracking sounds when played, and anyway: we should all try to re-invent the light when darkness rules, right? This music helps you do just that! ;o)

Well done, lads!
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on 30 March 2013
Apart from H2O molecules, what is in the water in Sweden?
It's not just water in the pipes either, there must be a direct conduit back to the early 70s. How else can you explain the likes of Witchcraft and Graveyard and all the 'tron drenched proggers and all this with all the men being G-A-Y too (Ask the Finns, they'll explain)
This just gets better on every play. Honestly. Good honest Hard Rock from denim clad men with long hair and face fungus. Can it get better than that? Well yes! There's Mellotron on it too.

If it's on Rise Above BUY IT. Lee Dorrian may be a dancing fool, but he ain't no musical fool.

Buy. Or Steal. Then buy a proper copy out of guilt.
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on 11 January 2008
Also my first purchase of 2008. Like this album a lot but it IS very derivative of the late 60's, early seventies. Imagine if you will Black Sabbath (lite) fronted by Jim Morrison. Not as good as either of those but wsell up to scratch in today's market.

I found this in the heavy Metal section but it is not that heavy and is definitely NOT metal.
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on 5 March 2015
had to day very pleased with item and the seller
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on 7 December 2015
Just a good folk/rock album to listen to.
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