Sound — 8
Witchcraft are a Swedish doom metal band (intertwined with some stoner rock influences) formed in 2000. They have released a handful of well-received LPs, and "Legend" is their fourth, and heaviest record yet. This record is the first with not one, but two new guitarists (Simon Solomon and Tom Jondelius) and a new drummer. Originally a quartet, Witchcraft expanded prior to the release of this album so vocalist Magnus Pelander could focus solely on improving his singing as opposed to additionally playing guitar parts.
The album's production, courtesy of Jens Bogren, is in fact a change for the band. This is the first album the band have recorded with modern equipment - all prior releases were recorded with vintage machinery, and as a result the albums bared some resemblance in regards to its production to earlier Pentagram releases. However, despite this change the album still sounds great. No particular instrument is too high or too low in the mix, the bass is very much audible and the vocals seem natural throughout.
The line-up change did not negatively affect the band, either. Almost instantly, the new guitarists prove their worth as the record opens with the riff-infested "Deconstruction," one of the album's highlights. The album as a whole, in fact, is filled with excellent riffs and some decent soloing. "Dystopia" and "White Light Suicide" in particular stand out in regards to their instrumentation. Bassist Ola Henriksson also provides some catchy bass-lines in tracks such as "Flag of Fate." There are some small complaints, however - for example, the gargantuan closing track that is "Dead End," reaching 12 minutes in length, does seem to overstay its welcome - but these flaws do not bring major detriment to the entire album.
Lyrics — 7
As previously mentioned, Magnus Pelander stepped out of the role of guitarist prior to the recording of this album to focus solely on his vocals. This works to his advantage as his delivery is great, overall, and he performs better than on previous records. Additionally, the vocals fit perfectly with the instrumentation and as a result of "Legend"'s great production, Pelander's voice is not drowned out by the other band members.
The lyrical content serves as a commentary on issues such as the media and other plagues on modern society. These excerpts from "Deconstruction" and "An Alternative to Freedom" respectively, convey this:
"Utopian idealist breaking ways for all to see,
Deconstructed patterns manifest in broken helpless souls,
Inspiration draws us all from amused, abused, and disconnect,
Suspicion and coalition hold their hands when trust is gone,
Satan is amused"
"Karma works in reverse, whirling and swirling its way,
Automatic wisdom, inherent but deranged.
Nihilistic viewers, believe in their true ways,
Confused and decadent, they give in to their fraud"
The lyrical content as a whole is consistent and powerful, accompanying the album's vocals well.
Overall Impression — 8
Reminiscent of doom metal bands of old, Witchcraft's fourth album achieves an outstanding throwback sound while, for the first time in the band's history, harnessing modern production methods. While their previous records' production was littered with Sabbath sensibilities (in a good way), "Legend" somehow feels more cohesive, more accessible - the record proves to be a magnificent specimen in regards to its production.
"Legend" is in fact a great example of how excellent modern production should sound on a metal record - as with all prior Witchcraft records, it sounds monumental. In addition to the wonderful production, the album's powerful lyrical content and pristine instrumentation, demonstrated particularly well on standout tracks "Deconstruction," "It's Not Because of You" and "An Alternative to Freedom" makes for an admirable record overall.