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Release Date: January 15, 2016
Formed in 2000 as a tribute to Pentagram, Witchcraft are no strangers to fans of hard rock these days. Their last album, Legend, was a powerhouse moment in their discography and a head-turning debut for the new label Nuclear Blast. Nucleus continues to showcase the more well-rounded band we heard on Legend while adding some doomier nods to their earlier albums.
The album opens a little slowly with the eight minute plus epic “Malstroem.” It builds bit by bit into a mountainous track that sounds a lot like their earlier works. It has haunted acoustics, fuzz-drowned guitars, and plodding rhythms that will make any fan of Stoner Rock or Doom Metal bow in submission. While I dig the song, it’s a very sullen way to open an album that offers so much more than this sound. In essence, it kills the momentum before it even has any. The fourteen-minute title track, on the other hand, is like a flowering acid trip. It features monkish chants, wailing guitar solos, and ethereal acoustic parts. By this point in the album (almost midway through) you are ready for some headiness, so naturally it fares better than “Malstroem.”
It’s track three, “The Outcast” that really helps Nucleus get on it’s Rock and Roll feet. It’s a politically-driven rocker with a groovy riff and an anthemic quality that makes you want to immediately sing along. Even the pan flutes rock out on this one! “To Transcend Bitterness” falls somewhere between the doominess and the rockin.’ It features some more progressive elements that help it to stand out from the pack, coupling the murkiness with a more aggressive edge that makes it feel heavier overall than a lot of the other songs. The pounding “The Obsessed” is another excellent moment that again features the bands more progressive side skipping hand in hand through a black and white field of daisies with it’s stoned older brother.
Overall, this isn’t as solid from start to finish as Legend was in my opinion. Despite that, there are some amazing moments here that you don’t want to miss out on. And, truth be told, this is a much more diverse collection of songs than any of Witchcraft’s other albums. If you are a fan of Electric Wizard, Orange Goblin, Grand Magus, or any of the other bands that openly exorcise their love of bands like Cathedral, Black Sabbath, and Pentagram then you need to check this out because Witchcraft is one of the best the genre has to offer.
Reviewed by mark1340