Having recently released their first album for Nuclear Blast (entitled “Legend”), Swedish doomsters Witchcraft see their first three albums being reissued (originally released on Rise Above). First off we have the gem that is their 2004 eponymous debut – recorded in a basement for next to no money on old borrowed equipment – whether by accident or by design this sounds gloriously dusty and spaced out. Unlike so many bands aiming for a 1970’s sound with more than a nod to Sabbath, Witchcraft are wonderfully uncontrived and their playing feels loose and natural. There is no blueprint here – they veer between Vanilla Fudge, The Moody Blues, Pentagram and early Black Widow with a whole heap of other influences thrown in. Intricate jazzy fills are interspersed with monolithic heavy riffs on tracks like ‘The Snake’ and ‘You Bury Your Head’ but there are trippier and even 60’s britpop style snatches on ‘No Angel Or Demon’ and ‘I Want You To Know.’ ‘Schyssta Logner’ is the standout track with a groove so addictive you’ll want to hit repeat as soon as it ends. A stunning and much overlooked debut.
Second album “Firewood” followed in 2005 with a slightly brighter and cleaner sound, but still with a huge smokey whiff of loon pants, josticks and 1974 about it. With much more pace, riffing and power this release seemed to have a more Deep Purple feel to the guitar work and founder member Magnus Pelander really finding his feet (or maybe his lungs) as a vocalist. There is a real confidence and swagger to his delivery that wasn’t quite there before and at times he echoes Ozzy on Sabbath‘s first few recordings. Overall, a less eclectic album than its predecessor but no less enthralling.
Much touring with the likes of Pentagram, Grand Magus and the mighty Orange Goblin saw them hone their skills and their 2007 offering “The Alchemist” is an altogether more mature affair with some really well crafted songs and a more methodical feel. ‘If Crimson Was Your Colour’ is Arthur Brown channelling The Doors and although ‘Hey Doctor’ borrows one of Leif Edling’s (Candlemass) riffs it is a spectacular blast of retro doom. Finishing with the title track – a sprawling 14 minutes of acoustic guitar, keyboards, flute and then good old fashioned rock riffery – this album demonstrated they could consistently produce quality material and stand head and shoulders above most of the other bands out there blazing the stoner/doom trail.
A firm 9 out of 10 for each and every one of these three albums.