I've been an obsessed hard rock/heavy metal fan and collector since the early 1980s. If it's got a good guitar riff and attitude, I'm in.
Spellwitch's "The Witching Hour" (2018)
Release Date: Spring 2018
Label: Stormspell Records
Style: Traditional Heavy Metal
When I received the promotional MP3s for Spellwitch's The Witching Hour about a week ago, I was giving them a quick initial listen at my PC when my ten year old son suddenly appeared over my shoulder.
"What'cha doin'?" he asked.
"Checking out a new band I have to review," I replied.
"Are they any good?" he asked.
"Dunno yet," I said, "I just started listening to them a minute ago."
My son stood and listened for about ten seconds, then shrugged and pointed to the album's cover art on my computer screen.
"Give 'em a good review, Dad," he said, "I like the cat on the cover. He's cool."
So there you go, my ten year old says you should buy this CD because of the kitty on the cover. That was easy. Review over. Haha!
No, but seriously...
"Legacy of Greed"
So Who the Heck is Spellwitch, Anyway?
Hailing from Finland, Spellwitch is the brainchild of two musicians—Kimo Perämäki, who performs all the guitars, drums, keyboards, and lead vocals on this release; and bass player Ossi Raiski. Cederick "Ced" Forsberg of Blazon Stone and Rocka Rollas fame was apparently also involved with Spellwitch during the early stages of the project's development, but he does not appear on this album, due to either time constraints or musical differences. He does get a special "thanks" in the CD booklet, though.
Perämäki's name might sound familiar to those of you who are well versed in the Euro-metal scene, because he has served as guitarist and vocalist in several other Finnish metal bands including Masquerage, Backhill, Celesty and Spiritus Mortis. On The Witching Hour, Perämäki and Raiski rattle off nine tracks of classy, melodic heavy metal with a slightly dark edge that Stormspell's promo materials liken to early Savatage and King Diamond. (They also make comparisons to Siren and Stormwitch, but I'm not terribly familiar with either of those bands so I'll just take their word for it.) In addition, I detect some Dio, Iron Maiden and Blind Guardian influence in Spellwitch's mix as well. In a nut shell, if you enjoy polished, melodic European style heavy metal, The Witching Hour is bound to spend quite a bit of time in your player, as it has done in mine!
The Tunes on "The Witching Hour"
The Witching Hour kicks off with a brief, medieval sounding acoustic piece that sets the tone for the first song proper, a high flying number called "Wreath of Fire" that is pure Seven Keys-era Helloween, right down to Perämäki's very Michael Kiske-esque vocal delivery. "Across the Universe" gallops along nicely like prime Iron Maiden, and then "Trust In Fire" increases the heavy quotient with some muscular riffing and vocal hooks that bring Queensryche's Geoff Tate to mind. I hear some strong Dio influence in the excellent "Magic Scrolls," which features some particularly classy guitar work.
My favorite track on the CD was "Night Sky (Take Me Under)," which has the catchiest chorus on the album by far. "Legacy of Greed" brings the heavy yet again with more scorching leads and soaring vocals. "Unwelcome Guests" is another quality slab of melodic Euro-metal and then The Witching Hour comes to a close with the title track, which is another brief instrumental interlude that reminds me quite a bit of Metallica's classic "The Call of Ktulu."
With a run time of just a hair over 30 minutes, The Witching Hour is short, sweet, and doesn't overstay its welcome. I'm impressed at how this two-man project manages to sound like an actual "band" thanks to recording studio magic. Even though I've reviewed several such projects from the Stormspell label, I continue to be amazed by people like Perämäki, who can not only play more than one instrument, but play them well. Meanwhile, I still haven't figured out how to "sync" my cell phone to the stereo system in my new car. (shrugs)
"Night Sky (Take Me Under)"
Summing It Up
The Witching Hour was a nice change of pace from the high-velocity, thousand-mile-an-hour speed metal and swords-n-shields, all-men-play-on-ten power metal that's been coming out of the Stormspell stable of late. Headbangers and melodic rock fans alike should all find something to enjoy in Spellwitch's heady brew. Let The Witching Hour cast its spell over you. This one is highly recommended. Bonus points for the cat!
© 2018 Keith Abt