Album Reviews
Band: Witchwood

Title: Handful Of Stars

Label: Jolly Roger Records

 

What's in a name when it comes to a band? Well, the Italian group Buttered Bacon Biscuits certainly got my head-a-scratching, even though I've heard nowt by them (will check out!), and though they are no more, forming from said group in 2014 was Witchwood. which has former BBB members Luca Celotti (bass), Ricky Dal Pane (v.guitar. mandolin. percussion), Stefano Olivi (piano, Hammond, Moog, synth), Andrea Palli (drums), Samuele Tesori (flute, harmonica) and newbie Antonio Stella (lead guitar) in their ranks, releasing their debut album 'Litanies From The Woods' in 2015, followed by 'Handful Of Stars', which gets it's name from the final track of their debut, AND, this 'new' album contains ideas/music that were held over from the debut as it was already 80 minutes long, and we all know how tetchy record companies can get!  Anyways, if 70's Hard/Prog Rock is your thang, (Purple Heep,etc), then look no further as this will not only rock yer boat, but it'll probably capsize the bugger as well, as this takes you on a flute orientated, mind-bending bongo'd journey into the unknown!!

Opening with the wah-wah'd, flutetastic 'Presentation Under The Willow', short 'n sweet it has to be said, visions of scantily-clad nymphs dancing in a field automatically spring to (my!) mind, the only thing missing is the sensual waft of Patchouli, but fear not, the following full length song 'Like A Giant In A Cage' strengthens that wanting in a flurry of Hammond, flute and a penetrating guitar, very Tull meets Heep in it's presentation, and a splifficious jam session to boot! Yeah, Maaa-aaan!!  You're slowly led into the Hammond-esqued, rifferama'd pulsater 'A Grave Is A River', where the tempo gets shuffled like a pack of cards, you wanna go slow, ok. You wanna go mid tempo, u-hu, you wanna go neck-break speed ... lets go ... it's all here, and all the time the song is hypnotic to the point you forget the time that passes, you're that engrossed in the song. so it's just as well the acoustic ballad 'Mother' comes along to ruffle your hair (grrr!) to bring you back from the land of the lost, this folksy dreamer bolstered by the tender use of the mandolin and moog, whilst Medieval style chanting certainly adds to the dreamy sequences. 

If you listen carefully, you can almost hear a similar riff to that in the make-up of Mountain's 'Nantucket Sleighride' within the structure of 'Flaming Telepaths', the Blue Oyster Cult track that WW cover as a tribute to one of their fave bands, and well they do with their take on it, as they do on the other homage to another all time favourite group, Uriah Heep, where the  band take on  'Rainbow Demon', those power-chords a slow version (almost) of that all time classic 'Gypsy', though a lot slower in tempo to 'When I was only 17...', and there's enough of Witchwood's own footprint in both tracks to make sure they ain't a complete copy, just in case people think they are trying to be a total tribute act!

The title track song is by no means ... short! Moog and Hammond celestial intro to mess with the brain then the doom-laden drums n guitar are joined by vocals that would seem to be sung by someone in a hooded cloak addressing a throng of Devil worshipers! Dal Pane definitely knows how to get the best effect for this dark-edged track singing this way, and even that damn flute gives you the willies as it jabs away like a mischievous wee imp, the track seemingly going on forever ... but in a good way as it is another mesmerizing slab of wonderment that eventually brings the album to it's ending ... 7 tracks ... 45 mins 11 secs ... or 2 bottles of Bud long  to be exact!

Admittedly, this would not usually be my cup 'o tea at all, but this album just overpowers you and you cannot help but be taken in by the....well...I'll say it again, the hypnotic effect that is so prominent throughout.  Eerily fab!

Review by: Robb Baldwin

 

Tracklisting:

1. Presentation. Under The Willow
2. Like A Giant In A Cage
3. A Grave Is A River
4. Mother  
5. Flaming Telepaths
6. Rainbow Demon
7. Handful Of Stars    
   part one: The Gates Of Slumber    
   part two: Nox Erat
    
   part three/epilogue: Litanies For A Starless Night


BACK TO MENU

 All content copyright of The Mayfair Mall zine unless otherwise stated and may not be reproduced with prior written permission.