Wednesday, 21 October 2020

ALBUM REVIEW: Wytch Hazel, "III Pentecost"

By: Richard Maw

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 30/10/2020
Label: Bad Omen Records

“III Pentecost” CD//DD//LP track listing:
1). He is the Fight
2). Spirit and Fire
3). I Am Redeemed
4). Archangel
5). Dry Bones
6). Sonata
7). I Will Not
8). Reap The Harvest
9). The Crown
10). Ancient of Days

The Review:

Wytch Hazel, perhaps the North West of England's premier medieval metal band return with their third full length and it is an interesting and progressive beast. Their debut, “Prelude” was an excellent mix of particularly British hard rock, folk rock and proto-metal, while “Sojourn” went into more straightforward rocking territory.

This time around, the band have expanded their sound further and deliver songs that are thematically even more pro-Christian with a sound that is hard driving and whimsical by turns. “Pentecost”, as one might expect from the title is fairly steeped in Christian theology and comes on with a sound that mixes Wishbone Ash, Jethro Tull, Thin Lizzy and Iron Maiden to quite glorious effect.

The opener “He Is The Fight” lets you know exactly where you stand; approximately in 1975 in a  warm recording studio complete with ornate rugs and wooden floors. The sound and production is excellent; it's warm and vibrant with organic sounds aplenty. James Atkinson (of Gentlemens Pistols fame) has done a superb job of capturing the band's heart and soul. The nifty production trick of adding acoustic guitars to augment and fill out the electric instruments is introduced from the get go and it is repeated throughout the record, making for an expansive and airy sound.

The religious themes and imagery crop up time and again also; “Archangel, “Reap The Harvest”, “I Am Redeemed...” anyone reading these song titles should not be surprised at all by the lyrical content. It might be hard to swallow for some listeners- but, of course, those same listeners are probably happy to imbibe the cod-satanism of any number of other metal bands. I must confess, this includes me. I find the religious aspects of the record problematic and distracting. However, the quality of material such as “The Crown” shines through, though, so regardless your of your belief system you should be able to enjoy this.

It's my view that this is the best and most developed Wytch Hazel record yet; it conjures up a uniquely English atmosphere (once again the spectre of  Argus!) and is expertly played and delivered by a band of clear capability. All band members do a great job from the vocals (masterfully double tracked in places) to the melodic guitar playing to the rock solid rhythm section it is pretty much flawless. The songs are there, the production is there, the front cover is fantastic. There are so many plus points to the album that they outweigh any gripes one may have with the lyrical themes contained herein. It's an excellent record by a unique band- one that deserves to be given a try and heard by any fans of any of the bands mentioned or alluded to here.

“III Pentacost” is available HERE

Band info: bandcamp || facebook