MetalBite Review by Szymon on 3/30/2016
There are only few musicians which I trust almost limitlessly, and one of them is certainly Witchcraft
’s commander Magnus Pelander.
Pelander, like a rock Midas turns any next Witchcraft
album into gold. He does not hurry with the new albums, records only when he has something to say and still maintains an equally very high quality level, unattainable for most other bands in this style. Work-related accidents don’t happen to him, he doesn’t care about ‘best of ‘charts, and he doesn’t care to make an impression as if he wanted to be popular or if he wanted to conquer the world. He does what he wants and the best proof of it is the fifth album in the discography of the band called Nucleus
, which strengthens the position of Witchcraft
among the elite of classic rock bands.
is actually a solo, at the same time rather enigmatic, hibernating for quite long months Pelanders project. There are no musicians in the bands line up with which Magnus started the band with sixteen years ago, there isn’t even one of the companions recording the previous album Legend
. The leader is responsible for all the music, lyrics and the idea for the graphic layout, he sings, he recorded all the guitar parts and most of the keys, he even reached for the vibraphone. He invited bassist and drummer, and several guests to participate in the production and to be responsible for backing vocals, flute, violin, but other than that his domination is absolute. Taking into account the quality of work of Witchcraft
, this confirms, moreover, solidly proven theory that democracy does not necessarily works in the music industry. The boss determines the creative direction, drinks the cream of the crop but is however also responsible for possible failure.
The latter fortunately, Pelander does not have to worry about (hopefully as long as possible), though with the Nucleus
the band does not live off coupons; they’ve ventured a little, offering probably the least approachable, and paradoxically the most atmospheric album in his career so far. There are more references to folk here, moreover, this is the way the album begins, or with folk passed through the filter in the style of a rock band Jethro Tull
(cool parts of the flute). But what we have here is even more of that quiet minimalism - like in ‘Helpless’, ‘Nucleus’ or in the first part of closing the album, traditionally the longest, 16-minute colossus ‘Breakdown’. There were no similar solutions on such scale in Witchcraft
’s artistry before.
Swedes have done something like that already on the occasion of recording the Legend
, while retaining all the features typical of their style, but at the same time being a bit more advanced sound-wise, dismissing the band from - in the long run stigmatizing – ‘retro’ pigeon hole. Nucleus
is not a new opening and leaves no doubt that this is pure bred material of Witchcraft
, though not duplicating ideas from Legend
or earlier release, the brilliant The Alchemist
, which to this day is recognized by many fans as the bands opus magnum. Vocals, guitar parts or one-of-a-kind melody lines are impossible to repeat and very characteristic of the Swedes, while at the same the album requires the listener, probably for the first time, to digest it a little bit longer and allow the peaceful atmosphere of the album to saturate uninterrupted.
Initially, it may seem that something doesn't jive here. The melodies are not as obvious, at moments Pelanders hysterical vocalizing is surprising at best, there is much less ‘song’ qualities here, pieces are longer and multi-threaded, and it’s hard to talk about particularly distinctive compositions. More so, with selection of the very safe first single 'The Outcast', based on the catchy, trademark, melodic line, Pelander definitely does not reveal all the cards from the Nucleus
deck. I also do not want these cards unveiled, because such emotional and beautiful music does not easily surrender to any reviewer’s analysis. Not to mention, that when Nucleus
finally clicks, it totally makes the listener devoted. It's a wonderful album from remarkable band, and everyone should discover it on their own.
Rating: 10 out of 10