So basically the new WITCHCRAFT EP Black Metal (out now, Nuclear Blast Records) is more of a Magnus Pelander one-man show. It is simply him singing and playing the acoustic guitar. Now, if you’re a long-time fan of the band’s work, this will strike you as completely out of left field, and rightfully so. Even the record’s title is very misleading. However, the music found within is very dark and downbeat. Pelander does a nice job of sounding world weary and beaten down. In other words, this stuff is quite depressing, which doesn’t mean it’s bad by any means.
Over the course of seven tracks we are treated to varying levels of darkness and despair, most of which work well. Opener “Elegantly Expressed Depression” is aptly titled and the one that resonated most with me. Elsewhere “Free Country” has some rather eloquent lyrics to go along with a pretty nice melody. There’s an old-time bluesy feel to the track as well. Another one I rather enjoyed was “Sad Dog.” Pelander sounds very much like a broken man, and if that’s what he was going for, mission accomplished.
Closing the disc is “Take Him Away” which actually hints at a more positive outlook than the other compositions. This is a sharp contrast to the overall aesthetic, but fits within the musical framework. Overall Black Metal isn’t bad at all. Is this something I’d normally be into? Maybe, maybe not. The entire folk genre is certainly not my go-to, but this record makes for a nice listen on a cold, rainy day.
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Elegantly Expressed Depression”, “Free Country”