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Witchcraft have undergone some changes since their debut album that currently reflect their music. The self-titled record started a fantastic musical legacy and the band continued to write songs in that doomy/psychedelic folky sort of way in their second album “Firewood” as well. According to many people, the third full-length “The Alchemist” which was released two years after “Firewood” sounds in the same analog minimalistic way, but for me it is not as magical as the first two, even if the analog sound is not wiped away. However, on Legend the change is more eminent and the folk motives so characteristic for the debut are not so easy for one to hear. Not to mention the modern overtone of the sound that has been (in my opinion, again) forced by Nuclear Blast. I know that most people don’t give a fuck about labels, but as a huge doom metal lover I don’t see the future of a psychedelic/ folk rock band under the wing of this modern metal label.
For those of you who have not had contact with the lovely tales of Witchcraft – this band comes from Sweden and though Sweden is not particularly famous for that kind of rock these guys don’t find that as an obstacle. Along with their former band peers Graveyard, Witchcraft play that vintage sounding, soft hard rock, characteristic for bands like Pentagram. And since I already mentioned Pentagram, some people say that the first Witchcraft album sounded like a tribute to the formerly mentioned guys. I don’t know if Witchcraft tried hard to sound old and folky, but they certainly created something unique for our time that left its mark. To come to the word, if you have already did – don’t get me wrong. Witchcraft still write these catchy rock’n’roll songs. Legend is in no way a “letdown” regarding catchy riffs and choruses. Most songs on the new album will easily become ‘live hits’ and if we speak of “catchiness” this is the catchiest Witchcraft release. Only the debut can’t compete with it in that aspect since it is very memorable even from the first listen. The moment you hear the first two songs, you know that this album is not going to suck or bore you. Each song flows perfectly, there are no fillers here. The new band members – two new guitar players and a drummer don’t affect the old sound in a noticeable way, with the only visible change being the more modern sound and production. What is really good is that Magnus still sings with his dreamy and characteristic voice that makes Witchcraft so memorable and different from the many in that scene. What should be mentioned is that now he focuses only on the vocals whereas in the previous albums he also played the guitar.
Legend has varying songs – some faster paced, some that can be classified as ballads – in that aspect there is no big change from the other albums. I won’t discuss each one on its own, what I think I should point out is that the album doesn’t sound as one big whole river that doesn’t end, every song is different from the other so don’t fear potential boredom. The opener track, which is also one of my favourites, starts with that super catchy even metal riffage supported by some of the heaviest vocals on the album. What I think is a big minus is the slow down a bit before the end where the vocals also become too slow and eventually cheesy – I mention it because this is present in not one or two songs – it makes the song sound cheesy and dumb. I know that some people like such softness to be inserted at certain times, but I think it needlessly softens the music as a whole. And this is what bugs me at times – Legend is TOO light. If someone tries to lie to you that you’re listening to doom metal, don’t believe them. This is really classy and varying hard rock, but in no way doom metal. One more minus is the fact that while the first albums had some atmospheric feeling to them, a feeling that could transport you to another time and place, the one we hear in 2012 lacks that ability. Fortunately, the guitars still does these solo tricks here in that specific Witchcraft way so the awesomeness is still present to a big extent.
It is not true that if you like the first Witchcraft albums, you will instantly fall in love with this one, however, it is very likely. For even if these guys now look a lot modern and certainly sound like that, I guess that was pretty normal and can be counted as a natural evolution.