REVIEW: WITCHCRAFT- Nucleus (2016)


Is progressive doom a thing? It is now

The opening line of the title track of “Nucleus” puts the whole thing into stark reality. “When you open up to everything….” it says. And that, you’d imagine is what the Swedes did when they were thinking up album number five.

To call this “sprawling” and “ambitious” is to do it a disservice. That very title song is 14 minutes long – and in so being it is far from the longest here – and is one of a number of the cuts on the record that meander and explore different ideas, seemingly popping off at will just to have a look somewhere else and see if the grass is greener.

That much had been obvious from the very start. “Malstroem” (a mere pop song at nine minutes) manages to sound like a glorious combination of Camel, Iron Maiden and Black Sabbath all before singer – and stalwart member for nearly two decades – Magnus Pelander has even so much as opened his mouth.

The skill of this, though, is that songs (and that’s what they are) never feel gargantuan enough to be impenetrable. And the short ones (and yes, there are a couple) of which “Theory Of Consequences” is perhaps the pick, never appear out of place.

Also, throughout the album, it never feels that the band are having a jam and enjoying themselves at our expense. If anything things are a little more understated than you might expect them to be and when they do cut loose – as on the albums highlight “The Outcast” which features a quite wonderful outro section – it is to the great benefit of the music rather than their own ego.

That’s not to say they can’t riff with the best of them them, and the opening of “An Excorcism Of Doubts” features a slab of doomy metal, but a straight ahead track wouldn’t suit this band and it most certainly wouldn’t suit this album and it’s soon doing things worthy of Led Zep at their most folky.

Indeed, the overall feel of the record is one sunlight and lazy summer days. “Helpless” with its oddly gentle and airy music, one of many to use wind instruments in the course of its sonic brew is typical, while the closing “Breakdown” (also the longest effort on the album at 16 minutes) is a dreamy affair, adding a psychedelic flourish to things.

What “Nucleus” does so wonderfully well is marry Witchcraft’s past with their present. And in so doing surely makes for an exciting future. This is a magical spell and surely a career high.

Rating 8/10

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