Monday, 18 July 2016

Wytch Hazel - "Prelude" (Album Review)

By: Richard Maw

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 22/04/2016
Label: Bad Omen Records


If you have any interest in Tull, Ash, Lizzy, Sabbath et al and yearn for a band to come along and play like those heroes of a bygone era, Wytch Hazel are definitely worth your time and money. They are a great band and one that is doing something unique- out are occult tropes and devil-ish imagery, in are song-writing, medieval sonics/themes and enthusiasm rather than cynicism. A triumphant record on every level.

“Prelude” CD//DD//LP track listing:

1). Freedom Battle
2). Fight
3). Mighty King
4). More Than Conquerors
5). Psalm
6). Prelude
7). He Shall Reign
8). Dark Ages
9). Wytch Hazel
10). We Will Be Strong


The Review:

This Lancaster troupe of minstrels release this full length via Bad Omen Records (home of the recently reviewed Wretch!). Musically, this is somewhere between Jethro Tull (folk rock period up to 1980) and Black Sabbath/Thin Lizzy. It certainly has the folk-ish elements and the complexity of the former, but it also brandishes the power of the latter as well- this is not folk rock; it's too heavy for that.

Freedom Battle” starts off at a fine clip and brings elements of Maiden (and thus their beloved influences) to the fray. “Fight” continues the combative theme of resistance and has many changes which are deftly handled by the band. “Mighty King” has no shortage of whimsical guitar work or vocal hooks. The sound is pleasingly warm and, yes, 70's. “More Than Conquerors” comes on like a revved up Wishbone Ash, while “Psalm” also echoes this; particularly with it’s rather pretty acoustic guitars and lyrics themed around nature, solitude and so on. Nice keyboard work, too.

The title track has a lot of the aforementioned elements and influences and hearing the ambient hiss (if you listen carefully on headphones) at the start of the track adds to the sense that this album is a trip back in time. “He Shall Reign” is a rather triumphant track in tone and boasts some excellent dynamics and vocals, along with a heavy turn in the middle. “Dark Ages” is a lament about an age of apathy and deceit. Prescient.

The band's theme song (if that is not too crass a term) follows with a rather muscular and Lizzy-esque four and a half minutes, interspersed with an acoustic passage and a superb harmony guitar section. The closing six minutes of “We Will Be Strong” is another powerful song with plenty of guitar interplay and soaring vocals. There is a tight rhythm section at work (as there is throughout the album) and plenty of singable lead work.

If you have any interest in Tull, Ash, Lizzy, Sabbath et al and yearn for a band to come along and play like those heroes of a bygone era, Wytch Hazel are definitely worth your time and money. They are a great band and one that is doing something unique- out are occult tropes and devil-ish imagery, in are song-writing, medieval sonics/themes and enthusiasm rather than cynicism. A triumphant record on every level.

Prelude” is available here
Band info: facebook

1 comment:

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