Sunday 17 January 2016

Witchcraft - Nucleus (Album Review)

Release date: January 15th 2016. Label: Nuclear Blast Records Format: CD/DD/Vinyl

Nucleus – Tracklisting

01. Malstroem
02. Theory Of Consequence
03. The Outcast
04. Nucleus
05. An Exorcism Of Doubts
06. The Obsessed
07. To Transcend Bitterness
08. Helpless
09. Breakdown
Limited digipak CD & 2LP vinyl bonus track
10. Chasing Rainbows

Band Members:

Magnus Pelander – Vocals, Guitar
Tobias Anger – Bass
Rage Widerberg - Drums


Witchcraft harnesses the supernatural forces of this old earth, processes them through their cantabile mind and delivers a super sonic arrangement of thaumaturigal divination. What does that mean? It means you are on a collision course with a hypersonic meteor, speed balling through the grip of the mundane, headed for landing on your doorstep in the shape of a prismatic stone covered with crystals of sound. If that still doesn’t make sense, just clear a path for its touch down because this quite an arrival. If ‘Legend” turned your head, ‘Nucleus’ will spin your head completely around, exorcist style.

This album showcases the band as more primal amped and ‘raw fish’ wired, which is a different approach compared to certain aspects of their previous releases. Magnus has strapped his tongue into the electric chair, energizing his vocals with a bolt of lightning, which results in flying sparks all over the album, a defining jolt of electro-convulsive therapy. Remember when Hetfield first sang a ballad? Well this is the reverse, Magnus putting an old familiar ‘Dead End’ anger in with a sense of new found urgency and succeeding on a new level of passion. Pure awesomeness.

This band has already proved that they can write a catchy tune, and don’t worry for this album contains said tunes, however a more powerful strength has emerged, evidenced by the presence of more than just one noteworthy selection that is extended in duration and polyphonic in compositional diversity. These opuses are proof of a mature band not afraid of widening the solid base of their original music by broadening their melodies on a daring flight towards new and darker horizons.

This is a band not satisfied with the stagnant of the tried and true for they could easily survive on their established and successful sound. They don't play by old rules for they have access to a cerebral pipeline that is rich with imagination. Their cleromantic toolbox contains cargo in secret compartments, all rooted in an obsession with art, burgeoning with bloody witchcraft manifestation. It is the bravery of exploring new terrain that has shown the absolute radiance of an already brilliant band. This is a band, who even after this release, will be far from bankrupt in novel ideas in the future. As for you, the listener, many returns will serve the dual purpose of listening for pleasure of favorite parts and experiencing the unnoticed sounds of other details you missed the previous spins around, thus making it hard for you to shelve this album or stray from this band.

The classic era sound has survived but with an additional and most important distinction, a reflection of something larger, which is the expression of greater truth over the limits by a band of high priests through their collection of songs provided in this hymnal record. They have provided a generous, marvelous and unforgettable gift and it is your job to find out what it means to you.

This album is psychonomic for the avant garde and is essential for the receptive mind. Take the dare, enter the circle and transform your affinity for gloom. Now for the tunes…

Malstroem- this tune starts off with an acoustic guitar and the sounds of a flute, but this is only the forerunner to the chugs of a real pounder that lengthens its bones and strengthens its sinew as progression is documented in audible distorted beauty. Pure palmistry is shown through on the guitarist’s knuckle bones and the attached movements of fingers on the fretboard, not unlike a planchette moving across a Ouija board, with a story to be told. This song, clocking in over 8 minutes in length, has it all..glacier sized riffs of gloom, bombastic drums of doom and haunting phrases dispensed Magnus style.

The next two songs, ‘Theory of Consequence’ and ‘The Outcast’ may never see regular rotation on corporate rock radio; they may be mandated to only underground college stations or your candlelit bedroom, this is a shame and quite possibly the symbol of patent apprehension immersed in senseless stupidity. ‘Theory Of Consequence’ is a heavy song with distorted riffs, trills and a hook made for a large squalus trolled for on a sea of uncertainty aboard a paper canoe. ‘The Outcast’ is the perfect tune; short and sweet, like a magical charm with irresistible pull. A thaumaturgic classic. These songs are catchy and ballsy tracks, however I don't know if all folks are open to the subject matter, the uncommon instrument flare-ups or the overall difference in musical expression.

Nucleus-This song is an album's worth of pleasure and alone is worthy of the purchase price. It is time to observe a heap conjured with bad medicine emerge out of the circle you have poured with the dust made from crushed seahorses. This is an epic song full of enchantment, incantation and wizardry that lead one to ecstasy through vocal spells and musical sorcery. You will know from the first listen why this is the name of the album. This could be the title track to a vintage horror movie, which has been hidden under the cobwebs of a many years now defunct movie house.

An Exorcism Of Doubts- this song alternates between certain heaviness, well-placed vibrations and softer strums that create a state of suspended transcendence. It weaves in and out, like a serpent in the dark. No doubt this is a great tune. A slowed down card trick that gains momentum and is ultimately rendered with the sleight of hand associated with legendary legerdemain.

The Obsessed-this is an upbeat groover with deliberate plateaus of distorted sound. This track may suffer the same unavoidable fate of previous tunes because of the inexperienced fortune tellers that only care about what the people want to hear and not what they actually need to hear, as they dine in these times of drunken satiation on the over abundance of bottled bands that contain mostly bubbles. One good belch and onto the opening of another empty calorie wonder with a flashy name.

To Transcend Bitterness- Magnus' vocals are like calcified drippings that create stalactites in the dark caverns of your mind. He is able to transform his voice as appropriate to the chosen topics. The band accent the vocal passages with suitable combinations of solid and shrill instrumentation, resulting in another huge song.

Helpless-this track is a slow, plodding metal song constructed with crunching riffage, soft acoustic guitar, trickles of flute and a solo that cuts like a filet knife on soft under belly. Magnus belts it out like Viking on a heroic fire rant. A bonafide fade to doom classic.

Breakdown- This venture is a long and brilliant song that pushes this band into a professional world of complex song-writing and entranced story telling. Instruments and vocals are intellectually used to convey a double bind helix that spirals downward into the schizophrenic path of madness. These are the sounds of suffering, mental breakdown, black malady, seductive witches, neurotic poetry and the possible questions of being reborn with the knowledge that you may be sane in a world full of crazies. The first half of this masterpiece is slow picking orchestration, with a percussive device, guitar thrums, distorted background flailing and Magnus’ choral cleverness. The second half of this song slogs along with thick distortion as it drags you through the collapse of mind with Magnus’ emotional delivery faithfully documenting the acceptance of not so textbook insanity. If there is a rebirth, it will be full of pain and secondary freedom, as all births seem to be a delivery of some kind.

Chasing Rainbows- this is a final song of tasty riffs, singing with a clasp, all made complete with pewter feedback and a guitar/flute mutagen. There is also lesson being taught as a dividend to the aural enjoyment.

Witchcraft falls into the realm of great album writers, in which the realization of an entire album is an encompassing auditory experience. This is no guilded lily, it is a sunflower in full bloom, trimmed with golden gossamer lace.

Witchcraft is the horde of lizard kings who help us understand the archetypal power of the rainbow through their chameleonic musical prism.

So, turn the dial up and allow the brain to simmer in the infused creative juices. Soon you will realize you are being cooked alive, but did you ever imagine you would taste so good? It is time for your mind to come alive through the magic of music and realize the immortality of Witchcraft.

Words by Nick Palmisano