Originally written by Rae Amitay
Witchcraft has been on a break for the past five years, and it’s often a gamble as to whether or not a ‘triumphant return’ album actually ends up yielding those results. In this case, Legend delivers. It’s sort of like an amped up Queens of the Stone Age, exchanging eerie atmosphere for more “good-natured” aggression. And the riffs, man. There are so many goddamn riffs, and they’re all infectious enough to put a smile on your face while you’re banging your head. Witchcraft has traded in their lo-fi sound for a much more polished rock production, but this is a help, not a hindrance.
Some songs are steeped in a traditional doom sound, while others are fast, enthusiastic, and straight up rock n’ roll. While Witchcraft certainly pays homage to bands of the past, it doesn’t come across as a desperately nostalgic effort. Instead, Legend combines more modern production with creative songwriting in order to set themselves apart from their older inspirations. The album isn’t flawless, and the retro stoner sound may get a bit ‘samey’ during the course of the record, but tunes like “White Light Suicide” are nearly uncontestable as far as catchiness, groove, and atmosphere are concerned.
Magnus Pelander’s vocals are in top form, and while many artists seem to confuse being pitchy with being “honest”, Pelander stays on key while keeping emotion and sincerity in his voice. His intensity varies along with the dynamics of the music, but is always distinctly soothing and confident. “It’s Not Because Of You” is a great example of his reserved style of versatility – the overall style of his vocals doesn’t change much, but there are subtle choices that keep the song charged and compelling. This song also features a kick-ass guitar solo and fantastic drumming. The fills are impressive while tastefully complementing the riffs, not competing against them.
“Dead End” is the final track, clocking in at twelve minutes. As the rest of the songs are half this length, it seems as though this song might have benefited from being split into two separate tunes. Its placement at the end of the album may be a detriment, as the listener’s ears have been slammed around with wailing walls of sound for nearly an hour at this point. The primary riff starts to lumber laboriously after a couple of minutes, and repetition is a popular device that can add depth at times, but cause monotony at others. There are sections sans drums, with sparse combinations of guitar, bass, and vocals that lull the listener into a false sense of security before all comes crashing back in, as if to say “Wake up, we’re not done yet.” The second half of the song is a standout from the entire album, with a sinister and sludgy riff taking center stage, Pelander’s voice slicing through the gloom. Nevertheless, some themes form a stale crust when left to repeat themselves too often, and the song would arguably not suffer from being shortened a minute or two.
The bonus track, “By Your Definition”, isn’t much different from other songs on the album, but is a worthy inclusion. It’s not among the best tracks on this record, but that isn’t the purpose it serves. It seems more like an encore, for those not wanting the album to end. Judging by Legend’s contagious melodies, clear production, and boundless energy, there will be plenty of people clamoring for more. This isn’t overused and unoriginal retro rock, this is the real deal. Bands attempting to cash in on the trend? Stop ripping off Black Sabbath and take note.