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Witchcraft | Legend

by Justin Gaines
– News Editor —

It’s been five years since the last Witchcraft album (2007’s The Alchemist) was released, and in that time the Swedish traditional/doom metal band more or less broke up, reformed with new members and switched record labels. Now signed to Nuclear Blast and featuring two new guitarists (Tom Jondelius and Simon Solomon) and a new drummer (Oscar Johansson), Witchcraft returns at a time when the style of metal they’ve played for more than a decade is more popular than ever.

Legend is the title of the album, the band’s fourth overall, and as soon as it starts playing you know that even with the new lineup it has the same unmistakable Witchcraft sound and energy. Witchcraft has always managed to hit that sweet spot between Black Sabbath and Uriah Heep (but mostly Black Sabbath) circa 1970. That comes from the heavy, doomy Tony Iommi-worshipping guitar riffs, Magnus Pelander’s Ozzy Osbourne-style wail and the overall gloomy feel they bring to every song. They bring all these elements to bear on Legend, starting with the up-tempo groove of “Deconstruction” and continuing all the way through to the somber, plodding 12-minute closer “Dead End.” Other highlights include the melancholy yet infectiously melodic “Flag of Fate” and “Ghosts House” and the wickedly catchy “It’s Not Because of You,” which is the album’s first single.

Legend was produced by Jens Bogren at Fascination Street Studios, so there’s a different vibe than on previous Witchcraft albums. Bogren, who made a name for himself mixing bands like Opeth, Paradise Lost and Katatonia, has an identifiable style, and it’s more polished than Witchcraft fans may be used to. It works though, and really well at that, capturing the band’s retro approach with a measure of refinement and an overall dark atmosphere.

If you were a Witchcraft fan going into this album, there’s no way Legend can possibly disappoint. If you’re new to the band and just getting into the old school heavy rock and metal revival via bands like Ghost, Blood Ceremony and Graveyard, you’re about to experience one of the best bands the genre has to offer. Legend is a fantastic album overall, and joins the latest offerings by Angel Witch and Orange Goblin as one of 2012’s absolute best releases.

Edition Notes: Both the CD and LP versions of Legend include the bonus track “By Your Definition” that is not available digitally.

Genre: Heavy Metal, Doom Metal

Magnus Pelander (v)
Tom Jondelius (g)
Simon Solomon (g)
Ola Henriksson (b)
Oscar Johansson (d)

Track Listing:
1. Deconstruction
2. Flag of Fate
3. It’s Not Because of You
4. An Alternative to Freedom
5. Ghosts House
6. White Light Suicide
7. Democracy
8. Dystopia
9. Dead End

Label: Nuclear Blast


Hardrock Haven rating: 9.5/10