A few months ago, Witchcraft began releasing some very vague posts on their Facebook page. Fans were expectant. “Were the Swedish doom rockers hinting at a return?” Then came the announcement that in 2016, a revitalized Witchcraft would release their new album ‘Nucleus‘ on Nuclear Blast records. There was much rejoicing.
On the last album ‘Legend’, Magnus Pelander ditched the guitar to focus on vocals. Thankfully he has re-embraced the 6 string for ‘Nucleus’ and the release has his recognizable stamp all over it. He has enlisted Tobias Anger (ex-2 Ton Predator) and Rage Widerberg on drums to join him on this latest foray. Together they have created a diverse sounding album that will please many and frustrate a minority.
If anyone was in doubt that Pelander didn’t know how to lay down a doomed foundation, after the opening minute, ‘Malstroem’ casts aside any fears. His pained vocal haunts and chills to exemplify the sentiment of the aural landscape. ‘Theory of Consequence’ returns to the Sabbath blueprint with its grainy, blasting beast of a riff. The lead single from ‘Nucleus’, ‘The Outcast’ was the perfect teaser for the return of Witchcraft. It has exactly everything you expect from the band. It is the firs “pop” moment on the album that pays its respect to the style of Roky Erickson and Blue Oyster Cult. In the second half of the song the lyrics allude to the Outcast. “A reader and a thinker man, in a desert, desolate place”. This section of the song is what makes it the standout song on the album. It’s everything I love about Witchcraft. The title track is a lengthy affair the begins with an acoustic intro with an almost ‘No Quarter’ feel to the sound. And although the spirit of Zeppelin and the Doors may encircle the perimeter, the soul of Sabbath is never far from the core.
‘An Exorcism of Doubts’ is morosely miserable. You can feel a sense of frustration and anguish torn along by vitriolic riffage. In contrast, the lead guitar cascades beautifully when it is released.
‘To Transcend Bitterness’ is possibly the song I’ve been waiting for Witchcraft to write since I heard the first album. It has everything I love from this band: Acute riffs, melody, wailing guitars and Pelandar’s emotional delivery. ‘Breakdown’ is expansive and clocking in at almost 16 minutes, it is a slow burner. The song comes into its own in the second half of the album with a fuzz infused crunch of monolithic potency and finishes with a spectral female vocal (similar to that used in the title track) embellishing the melody after a cacophonous cluster. Closing track ‘Chasing Rainbows’ returns with focus to complete the circle of Nucleus.
At times throughout the album, songs meander into unexpected areas of solace from the power but overall, ‘Nucleus’ is very much an album that hearkens to the elder age of the band. The gritty production is a backlash to the cleanliness of ‘Legend’. Each album has been a proton, a neutron and a cloud of discordant electrons that have been fused in the mind of Magnus Pelander. ‘Nucleus’ is the central seed in the atomic structure that has formed Witchcraft since its inception.
Recommended Track: The Outcast
Magnus Pelander | vocals, guitar
Tobias Anger | bass
Rage Widerberg | drums