Witchwood
Before The Winter

Witchwood flew into my radar last year, just like the owl on this album cover.  This Italian progressive Hard Rock/Classic metal band has two previous albums-their 2015 monster 80 minute Litanies From the Woods, their 2016 Handful of Stars and now their third album, Before The WinterWitchwood play a type of music that sounds like it could have come out in 1975, just with a more modern day production, but their influences range from:  Sabbath, Blue Oyster Cult, Jethro Tull, Zeppelin and The Doors.  Chalk up Witchwood to another of Frank’s new favorite bands.  After being blown away by this new album, I took the liberty to ensuring I had their prior material and was equally enthralled by their classic and mesmerizing sound.  This is one of the most obscure and non-brutal metal releases to make it on my years end best list for this wonderful site I write for, because those above influences I grew up listening to in the late 70’s, when I was old enough to understand what the hell music was.

Witchwood do like to write long songs and the songs never drag on- there is a lot going on, though.  From tambourine action to lop your heads off to outstanding musicianship, such as album opener “Anthem for a Child”, which immediately opens with an upbeat speed with some wonderfully well-placed flute action.  Yes, if you’re a Jethro Tull fan, you will enjoy Witchwood immensely.  Catchy vocals and excellent guitars.  The guitar work is truly impeccable and again the type of slick and well-played guitar riffs you would find in the 70’s as the sound is such a great throwback and the haunting flute at the 3.40 part may not have you doing slam-pit action, but will have you spinning uncontrollably in your living room, as the music and atmosphere takes you back to a time when bell-bottoms, TV dinners, handlebar mustaches, wood-paneling, slinky’s and psychedelic drugs were all the rave.

“Feelin’” starts with a stop n start riff/drum stomp pattern with some flute action ready to slaughter your very soul and then a short time later get ready for the tambourine action that will shake the heebie jeebies right out of you.  Some very cool noises, I guess some keyboard/synth action which will have you doing loopty loops all damn day.  The 2.05 section has The Doors atmospherics written all over it and combines some Blue Oyster Cult and some clap track going on.  This is super spacey, vintage and unreal in the catchiness especially when the vocal humming and crooning comes in and the flute sounds getting piped in higher in the mix, to slice your eardrums right in half.  One of the best songs for 2020.

At over 10 minutes “Slow Colours of Shade” begins with some quite vocal moments and nice bass guitar action.  Very spacey with the keyboards and excellent guitar moments.  The 5.15 guitar solo almost sounds like a kee-tar and then the vocal moments with the organ/keys, riffing has a very Transylvanian/doomy mood to it.  The vocal chorus phrasing during this moody section is super catchy and exceptionally written.  There is a bonus song too with “Child Star”, a Marc Bolan fantastic cover tune.

Witchwood’s Before The Winter should be in your collection now, if you enjoyed my particular references during this reading.  Have your Vietnam war medal alongside you, along with your bag of mushrooms and flavorful and mind-altering brownies as you take a trip down memory lane as you absorb all the fantastic sounds of this particular group.  I encourage you to check Witchwood’s prior material because it is just as good as this new album.  This is a wonderful and truly special band who understands and captures the true essence of the start of what metal would eventually start off at.  As I previously stated if this album came out in 1975 I would not have been surprised.  When I first heard them I figured it was a remaster of an album released some 40+ years ago.  Outstanding and Buy or Die album!!

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Frank Rini
January 19th, 2021

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