Psychedelic Witchcraft – Magick Rites and Spells (2017) Album Review



Artist Psychedelic Witchcraft Album Magick Rites and Spells
Release Date: January 2017
Label Soulseller Records Genre Hard Rock | Psychedelic | Stoner Rock

Prepare to be mesmerized and to willingly give your soul to the rock demons who hang out at crossroads and deal in the commerce of talent for eternal damnation.

We are all aware of the retro ‘60s and ‘70s era revival that’s going on in the music industry right now, and while some of it works (RAM, Ghost BC, Ancient VVisdom, et al.), a good chunk of it fails (The Sheepdogs, The Black Keys). Your taste may vary. When it comes to Italy’s Psychedelic Witchcraft, their revival sound is like a crisp fall wind churning leaves on the ground and whipping trees naked.

Earlier this year, Psychedelic Witchcraft released the compilation/long player, Magick Rites and Spells, via Soulseller Records. As well as a handful of new tracks, the album features songs that have appeared on their EP, Black Magic Man, and on their “Set Me Free” single. The band also has a demo, “Angela,” and a debut album, The Vision.

Virginia Monti leads the band on vocals, and her voice, while angelic and beautiful to the ears, captures the occult tone and doom vibe the band strives for. Her vocals can’t be ignored, and this might be no more true than on the groovy, deep-pocketed “Set Me Free.” On this track, her soulful swagger is on full display, and you’ll certainly want to be her stranger.

Although “Set Me Free” isn’t the album’s opener (it’s the third track following a fantastic-yet-bashful cover of Blue Oyster Cult’s “Godzilla”), it holds to the breakdown riff style established in “Come a Little Closer.” And so far, all three tracks have solid guitar solos from Jacopo Fallai.

It’s not until “Wicked Dream,” however, that Psychedelic Witch’s occultish influence (or appreciation) comes through as they quote the 1922 silent film, Häxan, using William S. Burroughs 1968 narration:

Lock them out and bar the door. Lock them out forever more. Nook and cranny, window, door, seal them out forevermore…

“The Dark Lord” continues with the occult theme… but in title only, as the song lyrically pays tribute to Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. Hey! If it worked for Led Zeppelin… Nontheless, there’s a great riff in this track, as well as some lots of Bonham-style fills.

The horror and witchcraft theme gets picked up again on “Angela,” as it quotes from Piers Haggard’s 1971 movie, The Blood on Satan’s Claw:

Doctor, witchcraft is dead and discredited. Are you bent on reviving forgotten horrors?

As one of the slower tempos on Magick Rites and Spells, “Angela” is among the more memorable. The precision in Monti’s vocals is measured and controlled, and I love the jam-like feel of the guitar solos. And no, I’m not confusing this track with its follow-up, “Lying on Iron,” which is another down-tempo, transcendental track.

“Black Magic Man,” the first track I ever heard from Psychedelic Witch, somehow reminds me of Heart, but perhaps that’s because, in addition to being female fronted and from the ‘70s, they have a track called “Magic Man.” I think Heart was singing about a sexual dynamo of a man who stole a girl from her family. This is the hardest rocker and angriest track on the album, and I wish there was more like it.

The Verdict:

Since I mentioned Heart, I hope to hear Monti take more chances and push her vocals in the Ann Wilson direction. On the whole, I wish there were more rockers like “Black Magic Man” on the album, but there’s no doubt that Magick Rites and Spells is 100% enjoyable, and for the last few months I keep coming back to it, so it warrants repeat listens. If you’re wanting something off the beaten path, retro, and witchy, check out Psychedelic Witchcraft; I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.

Rock Hard \m/

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