Saturday, January 23, 2016

Witchcraft's "Nucleus"


Witchcraft is one of the more unique rock bands of modern times.  The band started off in 2000 when Magnus Pelander, Jens Henriksson and Ola Henriksson got together to record a tribute to the band Pentagram.  Their single "No Angel or Demon" got the attention of Rise Above Records, who produced Witchcraft's first three full-length albums, all stoner rock "must have" classics.  Their latest two releases are on Nuclear Blast Records.  Each time Witchcraft puts out an album, there is a change in band members, with Magnus Pelander (vocals, guitar on the early albums) being the only constant in the sixteen years or so of the band's existence.  Witchcraft had five members on their 2012 release "Legend", and is now a trio with 2016's "Nucleus." 
So how to describe "Nucleus"?  Well everybody describes the first three albums, "Witchcraft", "Firewood" and "The Alchemist" as having an authentic 1970's sound, yet I would add that the songwriting sets them apart from sounding like any particular band from the 70's or any other time for that matter.  The fourth album, "Legend", had a much more modern, polished sound, while being heavier than any of the previous releases.  The sound for "Nucleus" is somewhere in between the sound of the Rise Above releases and Legend, but the songwriting is perhaps the most ambitious and grandiose of all their albums to date.  I've been listening to it for a while now, and it has everything I expect from a Witchcraft album:  Top-notch musicianship, creative and unique songwriting and professional production.  My only gripe with Nucleus is that tracks 4 and 9 get a bit repetitive and I find myself getting impatient before the next transition.  
Here's track #1, Malstroem, an awesome lead-in to the album:

Summary:  If you already love Witchcraft you will be psyched when you hear this;  it's almost an hour and fifteen minutes of Witchcraft, likely to make your top albums of the year list.  If you are new to the band, don't start with this one; start with "Legend" or "Witchcraft" and then explore the others before working your way up to this one.  

Addendum:  This did not stand the test of time for me.  I LOVE every other Witchcraft release, but won't play Nucleus any more;  it's just kind of boring.  At first it was just the tracks "Nucleus" and "Breakdown", but now it's all of them.  I have given this album "one more chance" numerous times, but finally deleted it from my library.  Please Magnus, bring back any one of your previous lineups and let them develop over the course of several albums, and I'll bet you'll go down as one of the greatest bands of all time.

Just for kicks, here's a classic from the first album.  
The tune is "Her Sisters They Were Weak":

I feel like my thoughts have been all over the place in this post, but that's appropriate for Nucleus, which is musically all over the place. Thanks for reading and listening;  over & out!

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