Witchwood – Before The Winter

Witchwood is an Italian band that was founded in 2014, out of the ashes of Buttered Bacon Biscuits, a formation that existed between 2008 and 2013. They presented a blend of psychedelia, hardrock and prog, and released one album entitled From The Solitary Woods (in 2010), on the known Italian Black Widow Records label. Three members of BBB joined the new band Witchwood, and in 2014 Witchwood released its debut album Litanies From The Woods. That was like BBB a blend of psychedelia, hardrock and prog, but more with an own touch. And more vintage, inspired by Uriah Heep, Jethro Tull, Deep Purple, Hawkwind and Lynyrd Skynyrd. In 2016 the band released its second album entitled Handful Of Stars, and in 2020 #3 entitled Before The Winter. I am not familiar with the work of Witchwood, this is my first musical encounter with the band.

Witchwood often strongly evokes Uriah Heep (even the excellent singer sounds like the second coming of John Lawton), especially in the first 3 tracks: fiery guitar and sparkling flute traverse in Anthem For A Child and A Taste Of Winter, and wah-wah guitar (trademark Mick Box), a flashy pitchbend driven Minimoog solo, delicate Fender piano, flute and distorted bass in Feelin’. More melodic rock with prog tendencies in Hesperus (halfway a sensitive electric guitar solo and then a swirling Hammond solo), No Reason To Cry (embellished with bombastic Hammond, swinging electric piano and a blistering guitar solo) and Crazy Little Lover (featuring bluesy mouth-organ).

But Witchwood also has a mellow side, in the beautiful ballad A Crimson Moon (pleasant variety with sitar, twanging acoustic guitar and flute) and the dreamy Nasrid (acoustic – and classical guitar, flute and opera-like female vocals).

The epic composition Slow Colours Of Shade is the most varied and dynamic track. It starts mellow with melancholical vocals and rhythm-guitar, then a slow rhythm featuring emotionals vocals. Halfway a break with strong work on keyboards, guitar and flute traverse and finally a long part with a compelling Heavy Prog climate, a bit ominous, my highlight is a spectacular Minimoog solo.

The LP version of this album contains a bonustrack entitled Child Star, it begins atmospheric and then gradually turns into Heavy Prog with sparkling flute traverse and a moving guitar solo.

If you are up to melodic rock with prog tendencies (like Uriah Heep), this is a fine and varied album.

© 2020 Erik Neuteboom

Witchwood – Litanies From The Woods

Witchwood is an Italian band that was founded in 2014, out of the ashes of Buttered Bacon Biscuits, a formation that existed between 2008 and 2013. They presented a blend of psychedelia, hardrock and prog, and released one album entitled From The Solitary Woods (in 2010). Three members of BBB founded the new band Witchwood that released 3 albums between 2015 and 2020. This review is about its debut album entitled Litanies From The Wood, from 2015.

I am a huge fan of debut albums, often the first album is loaded with pure power and high energy,  it is the culmination of working out interesting ideas during the years. Personal favorites are  Queen, Journey, Uriah Heep, Led Zeppelin, Rush, and Marillion. If I compare this first album to Witchwood its third effort that I recently reviewed (my first musical encounter with Witchwood) I am indeed more excited about this debut album. Because I hear all the elements that I like from strong debut albums, here is a band that sounds unleashed, with a musical formula that is in the vein of BBB, a blend of psychedelia, hardrock and prog.

The strong point in Witchwoods its compositions on this album is the shifting of the atmospheres, between mellow, heavy and bombastic, creating a lot of tension and dynamics. This is often embellished with Hammond, fiery guitar and flute traverse, but also Grand piano, mandoline, mouth-organ and the Moog Voyager synthesizer. My highlights.

Prelude/Liar starts raw and heavy, like early Queen (first two albums), then a surprising flute interlude, and finally a heavy explosion with fiery guitar and Hammond.

Rainbow Highway starts with Heavy Prog like Deep Purple and Uriah Heep, then mellow with wonderful Grand piano runs, gradually the music becomes more lush. The atmosphere culminates in a long fiery and compelling guitar solo, including use of the wah-wah, wow!

The Golden King delivers a mellow psychedelic climate (evoking early Pink Floyd) featuring soaring churchy Hammond, fragile guitar and flute, hypnotizing percussion and slide guitar. All these instruments are tastefully arranged into the music, topped with dreamy vocals, and halfway soft wah-wah guitar runs.

The epic Shade Of Grey is a dynamic composition, between folky (with twanging acoustic guitars, mandoline and flute), hypnotizing (with Moog Voyager flights) and heavy explosions with sparkling flute and biting guitar leads. The mellow parts reminds me of early Genesis, and the acoustic side of Led Zeppelin.

The final  epic track Handful Of Stars starts slow and bombastic with churchy Hammond floods and powerful vocals. Then an accellaration with swirling Hammond solo, rock guitar and a sparkling flute traverse solo (Ian Anderson-like). And finally spacy work on the Moog Voyager in a compelling atmosphere with hypnotizing drum beats.

If you like Heavy Prog or varied melodic rock this album is one to discover.

 

© 2020 Erik Neuteboom