Witchcraft – Crimson Is Their Color
By: David E. Gehlke
A classic example of a band with a segment of followers who are without question, stuck in the past, Sweden’s Witchcraft have had to face a tidal wave of criticism for their new album Legend (Nuclear Blast) simply because it sounds good. Not because the songs are bad (they’re not), or they’ve deviated from their sound (they haven’t), it’s because certain retro know-it-alls can’t wrap their heads around the fact Legend sounds better than its 2007 predecessor The Alchemist. It doesn’t sound like it was recorded in a garage in 1973, much to the chagrin of those we just mentioned. Stuck in the past indeed.
Legend’s appeal figures to be broadened because of their recent union with Nuclear Blast, a label that should help them escape the troublesome Rise Above Records tag that at times, is more of a burden than anything. It also helps that there’s a handful of easy-on-the-ears rockers, most notably lead single “It’s Not Because of You,” “Deconstruction,” “White Light Suicide” and “An Alternative Freedom.” When coupled with Jens Borgen’s [Amon Amarth, Symphony X] marvelous, but not overproduced production job, it’s not a reach to say Legend fits nice and snug between Firewood and the aforementioned The Alchemist But make no mistake, the "new" Witchcraft is here to stay.
Bass player and all-around humble dude Ola Henriksson phoned Blistering to discuss the developments around Legend, the new lineup, and much more. Here’s what ensued…
Blistering.com: The obvious thing to start with is that you’re five years out from The Alchemist, so it must be nice to finally have something new out with Legend, right?
Ola Henriksson: It feels great. It’s been a long time…I always knew that we were going to release another album, I just didn’t know how long it would take. It doesn’t feel that long, but when I think back, it is five years.
Blistering.com: The Alchemist may have came out in 2007, but it’s not like you’ve left people’s collective consciousness.
Henriksson: We were wondering ourselves if there would still be an interest in [us], but the feeling for the band has grown since we released The Alchemist, so I guess people have found out about us, even though we haven’t been that active. It feels like we have all of these new fans…it’s strange.
Blistering.com: When you were changing members and a few other things going on like a label change and so forth, but was there any doubt that you wouldn’t make it to the finish line with Legend?
Henriksson: When it was only me and Magnus, I didn’t really think about putting out a new album. In the back of my head I felt, sure we’re going to get some new guitarists and start rehearsing. It’s always been a part of my plan to release another album and I know Magnus feels the same way. Even if it would be just us two and studio musicians or like it is now, as a band, which I prefer.
Blistering.com: It makes me wonder: How old are some of the songs on Legend?
Henriksson: Some of them are fresh, some of them are really old…some riffs are ten years old [laughs]. Others are like, one-year old. It’s a ten-year span. I guess that’s how it works with most bands – you have certain riffs you can’t use in songs, then in the next one, you use them.
Blistering.com: Probably the big to-do regarding the new album is the production. You worked with Jens Borgen and the album sounds great, but there’s a segment of people who prefer the “old” sound of Witchcraft. Have you come across that sentiment at all?
Henriksson: I agree with you. I understand that some people want that you know, “lo-fi retro sound,” but to me, it’s about the songs. If you have good songwriting and songs, even if they sound like crap. I can listen to demo tapes from 1973 and you can hardly hear the vocals, but it could be a good song. To me, that doesn’t matter. But I agree with you – the sound on this album gives the songs what they deserve. Being a bass player, I think we lacked that on previous albums – the heavy bass and the drums.