The Alchemist

These days, we've got plenty of hipster bastards regurgitating ideas from '70s rock, even though their youthful enthusiasm and $40 haircuts can't save their worthless bands from falling into a deep abyss of kitsch garbage. But every couple of years, a band comes along that can actually re-create the feel and power of real rawk. Witchcraft has been stepping back in time for seven years now, and The Alchemist is their third attempt at capturing the essence of both '70s rock and folk.

The fact that the Swedish band uses vintage recording equipment definitely gives their recorded sound a mist of nostalgia. But it's their ability to craft powerful songs that flow beautifully within the confines of the restrictions they've placed upon themselves that make the band a true contender. Witchcraft has developed a strong versatility during their years together. Songs that begin as strong hard rockers — drums pounding, guitars seething — frequently slow down, morphing into foggy acoustic melodies that lean more towards Love or Nick Drake than they do Black Sabbath.

All the while vocalist Magnus Pelander wails his heart out, as the band plays with strong feeling and vision. They never try to be anything more than the culmination of their influences. As such, they're not the beginning of a new era in rock. But they damn sure are a great band. And that's all any band really needs to be.

Editor's Note: This week, we're cleaning out the closets, so to speak, and reviewing a bunch of worthy releases that fell between the cracks in '07.

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