Witchcraft

The Alchemist
(Rise Above)

This CD sounds like sitting in the back of a 1976 Dodge van, surrounded by blacklight posters, clouds of incense smoke, and stacks of 8-tracks. Musically, it's like some time-warped orgy of Cream, Black Sabbath, and Electric Light Orchestra; lyrically, it's all dragons, wizards, and cryptic cheesiness oozing over macabre metaphors. So, yeah, score one for the noir nostalgia, but don't overlook the bright side: These Swedes know retro doom metal well enough to actually addsomething to the sound. To wit, the song "Remembered," which follows the '70s flange guitar-and-flute formula closely enough, but manages to meander into a funky drum breakdown and swooning saxophone solo, to stunning effect. There are plenty of obvious nods to the rock gods of yore — there's more cowbell here than in all the milk farms of India, and the sparkly guitar harmonies in the middle of "Samaritan Burden" echo Led Zeppelin's "Thank You." But 12-minute-plus epic songs like "The Alchemist Pt. 1/2/3" and raw rockers like "If Crimson Was Your Color" (complete with funky bass line) show that Witchcraft's got some serious mojo of its own.

 
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