When I think about Witchcraft, my mind always casts back to a Metal Hammer article I read around ’05 or ‘06. In post-Katrina NOLA, Pepper Keenan and Phil Anselmo discovered Witchcraft’s self-titled record and it inspired them to reform Down, and take the band to Europe on a mission to escape the storm’s aftermath. Of course, listeners were gonna be intrigued by this ringing endorsement. And thankfully, Witchcraft delivered back then and they continued to deliver over the next 15 years, with The Alchemist and Legend quickly becoming personal favourites of mine.
In May 2020, the Swedish doom merchants have returned with their latest offering, Black Metal and at this point, it is worth mentioning that fans of the band expecting the doom laden, hard rock sound found in previous releases or if the record’s title suggests a change of genre, will be disappointed.
Black Metal is neither of those…
It is however, a striped back exploration of the darkness within, expressed beautifully by Magnus Pelander’s trademark vocals and gentle acoustic guitar playing. The record opens with Elegantly Expressed Depression… A song aching with harrowing lyrics that set the tone for what we this record is all about and this is where the listener needs to manage expectations for what’s to come. It is hard for me to give a breakdown of each song, as all seven tracks are similar in style and singing with some very light keyboard featuring near the end.
a striped back exploration of the darkness within, expressed beautifully by Magnus Pelander’s trademark vocals and gentle acoustic guitar playing…
This album isn’t about a band redefining their craft or taking a change in direction. No, in fact, the band do not feature here. This is more of Pelander solo record released under the Witchcraft brand and while this may disappoint fans, if you take the band name out of the equation and focus on the message, we do have a raw, genuine, heartfelt record.
Is this a metal record? No.
Is it black? If by black you mean dark, sad and depressing, then yes, absolutely. Another form of the doom genre that deserves respect. Pelander bleeds into the microphone with passion – a true artist at work. Black Metal releases May 1st by Nuclear Blast.
Scribed by: Seán O’Connor