After impressing fans with their 2012 Nuclear Blast Records release, “Legend,” Witchcraft continues to find ways to push the boundaries of doom and hard rock. For their fifth studio album titled, “Nucleus,” the band astonishes listeners with musical creativity that derives from a solid doom rock foundation.
The Swedish based band led by chief songwriter and singer/guitarist, Magnus Pelander, who has been the main driving force ever since Witchcraft began, really takes the band into a refreshing and strong sounding direction on the new album. The album also features a couple new members with Rage Widerberg on drums and Tobias Anger on bass. I think that Magnus wanted to build off of the last albums powerful momentum that was especially prevalent in the songwriting department, while being constantly creative with the arrangements. Also, the production for “Nucleus” is a bit of a return to the bands early sound that conveys a very vintage seventies hard rock vibe. Fans will be able to discover elements from the past that they might have enjoyed mixed in with some of Magnus’ new ideas.
Opening the album is the dynamic guitar driven piece, “Malstroem.” The song begins with the sound of a soothing acoustic arrangement that evolves into a dark ambient distorted riff. Building up the piece to a melancholy drum and guitar attack, Magnus injects his voice into the musical landscape with haunting vocal lines. Track two, “Theory of Consequence,” begins with a vintage Sabbath like tone and is a track that really revisits the band’s early days. Song number three could possibly be the best song on the album and might be one of the best songs I have heard this year. Released as a single, “The Outcast,” is all around brilliant. The flute and guitar beginning riff is an epic sounding match. Magnus creates these solid verse parts that trade off for short lead guitar fills giving the song a diverse musical flavor. Also, I really enjoy the lyrical phrases that he put together for this song. “To save a nation from a bad economy, is like sailing away on an endless sea...” is such a powerful yet simple phrase that adds a solemn moment during the song. Eventually the band transitions into a more aggressive musical finale with more wicked sounding lead guitar licks and Magnus’ bold melodic lyrical statements.
Now, an area where Witchcraft really took me by surprise was the longer and very progressive rock type tracks. For song number four, the album’s title track, the band composed a fourteen minute epic of great emotional expression. About halfway through the song there is this cinematic acoustic riff that features some chanting to add to the song’s already epic film score like atmosphere. The creativity and expression is unbelievable and reminds me of music composed by Ennio Morricone. Another long and extremely dynamic song on the album is, “Breakdown.” The fluctuation of sounds and emotional tone really gives listeners a continually exciting listening experience.
Other tracks I want to mention are “The Obsessed” and “To Transcend Bitterness.” Lyrically Magnus is a phenomenal lyricist who knows how to create memorable phrases. He is able to demand the listener’s attention by having this melodic yet fierce delivery. It is something you can even hear through the guitar playing. There will be these haunting doom riffs that can suddenly change into a pleasant melodic hard rock piece. I think the song, “The Obsessed,” is an appropriate song title to have on this album, because Witchcraft reminds me of the band The Obsessed, in the sense that there is this musical honesty that is delivered through raw emotional expression. Wino and Magnus are two musicians who I have a lot of respect for and are two people who can write extremely deep and powerful music.
Witchcraft’s, “Nucleus,” is an amazing display of songwriting and musicianship. The album is exciting from beginning to end by always searching for ways to add musical diversity to get the listener analyzing the content on a deeper level. One can definitely tell some differences between this album and "Legend, and Witchcraft found a way to standout from the rest of the doom crowd. Arguably one of the most versatile doom albums I have heard in awhile. If you want a solid well crafted doom rock release that will never become boring or repetitious, trust me, you do not need to ask a scientist with a fancy Ph.D to tell you that this album is the right choice.
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