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Album Review

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.


Genre: Rock

Years Active: '00s

The Swedish retro-doom-psych-folk band known as Witchcraft was started in 2000 by vocalist/guitarist Magnus Pelander, whose original intent was to record a single in tribute to Pentagram's Bobby Liebling and Roky Erickson -- how often does that happen? Calling on his friend John Hoyles (guitar) and brothers Ola (bass) and Jens Henriksson (drums) to lend a hand, Pelander did indeed record that single (titled "No Angel or Demon") and released it through small independent Primitive Arts Records in 2002....
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Firewood, Witchcraft
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