Ask a group of doom metal or stoner rock enthusiasts what band was the blueprint for the doom/stoner field, and the vast majority will -- without hesitation -- say Black Sabbath. So when a band is as Sabbath-influenced as Witchcraft, it is understandable that some headbangers would describe them as a doom band. But Witchcraft isn't nearly as forceful or as heavy as Eyehategod, Orange Goblin, or Toadliquor, and Firewood isn't typical of what has been considered doom metal and stoner rock in the '90s and 2000 -- actually, this 2005 release shows no awareness of post-'80s metal or even post-'70s metal. Rather, Firewood is a total throwback to the heavy metal, hard rock, and psychedelic rock of the late '60s and very early '70s. Black Sabbath's first few albums with Ozzy Osbourne are a strong influence, and the Swedish band's other inspirations include Jethro Tull, Cream, Uriah Heep, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, and the great but underexposed Budgie. If one didn't know for sure that Firewood was a 2005 recording, it would be easy to assume that the disc was recorded around 1969 or 1970 -- even the production is totally retro. And while Witchcraft's melodic offerings aren't the least bit groundbreaking, they are enjoyable; this derivative outing won't win any awards for originality, although it leaves no doubt that these Swedes are good at what they do. Firewood isn't in a class with the best albums that Sabbath, Tull, and Hendrix had to offer back in the Richard Nixon years, but it's a decent, worthwhile example of Witchcraft's desire to re-create the early years of heavy metal and hard rock.
1. Chylde of Fire
2. If Wishes were Horses
3. Mr Haze
4. Wooden Cross (I Can't Wake the Dead)
5. Queen of Bees
6. Merlin's Daughter
7. I See a Man
8. Sorrow Evoker
9. You Suffer
11. When The Screams Come (Pentagram)
12. If Crimson Was Your Colour
13. I Know You Killed Someone...
More than anything in the world, Witchcraft wants to be Pentagram... So, with that in mind, you know how this one goes: doomier-than-thou riffing, in that Blue Cheer proto-metal vein, plus anguished vocals a la Osbourne or Liebling... And that, my friends, is where it loses me, the vocals here being the weakest link by far, accented and bizarre, never terrible, but never quite gelling with the raw basement-production psychedelic metal guitars... (Think of Magnus as the Klaus Meine of doom, his accent and phrasing odd to a native English speaker, although sadly he lacks Meine's range and power.) A promising doom band, and one that rightfully gets praised by the Pentagram/Trouble/Sabbath crowd, but one that I rarely listen to... In checking it out now, I should probably listen to it more, because no matter how off-putting Magnus' vocals are, some of these riffs are killer, straight out of the classic era of dark guitar rock, equal parts BOC and Sabbath and others...
Rip from CD 256@ (full artwork included)