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Album review: SpellBook – Magick & Mischief

If you’re feeling fatigued by all the new stuff getting around, this album is an easy, enjoyable listen filled with everything you could want from classic metal/rock and roll

These days there are so many branches and sounds that fall under metal, and that is great, but sometimes you just want good old classic metal. SpellBook says that their newest album Magick & Mischief “marries Black Sabbath, Pentagram and progressive rock for seven songs of entrancing classic metal” so let’s take a look and see if they have achieved this.  

A lot of the songs on this album have magical references which are fitting, and what better way to start an album like this than with a song called “Wands to the Sky”. The track is an excellent introduction into the talents of each band member with fantastic drumming from Nicholas Zinn and driving guitars and bass from Andy Craven and Seibert Lowe. It also showcases Nate Tyson’s soaring, classic rock vocals. This song gives a great taste of the rest of the album.

“Black Shadow” and “Ominous Skies” continue the album with the former having a catchy, easy-to-sing-along-to chorus and an awesome harmonica part towards the end. The latter also features the funkiest bass line on the album along with an epic guitar solo.

A highlight comes from the ominous, minor-keyed “Not Long for This World” which sees Tyson changing up his vocals and singing in his lower range for the most part. This song is an eight-minute epic full of different sections and incredible instrumentation and has a sexy, driving, slower feel than the other songs on the album.  “Motorcade” provides another highlight with the bass taking centre stage. This song is fast-paced, has a bit of cowbell (who doesn’t love a bit of cowbell) and the last minute builds up to a fantastic finale.

It will likely be the song “Amulet/Fare Thee Well” that will be the listeners’ favourite. It has gorgeous warm guitars, a fantastic introduction and the whole song has a great tone. Between the choruses and verses, there is a great tempo change, and the harmonies in this song are incredible. On top of all of this, Tyson’s voice is superb, and the instruments are outstanding, with an epic, almost minute-long guitar solo. There is also a beautiful slow instrumental moment with synth/string sounds, something xylophone/glockenspiel-ish, gorgeous more classical-sounding guitar, piano and that never wavering bass.  This song has everything!

Last up on the album is eleven-and-a-half minute concept epic “Dead Detectives” which has a piano bar, jazz sound, rain sounds and spoken phone calls. It’s reminiscent of 1940s Chicago gangster times but bursts into metal instrumentation several times. The band say this song is reminiscent of Alice Cooper’s theatrical peak and if that’s your thing, you’re sure to enjoy this story.

While making this album, SpellBook decided to make the significant change in name from initially being known as Witch Hazel. They knew a huge change like that has risks but being confident that this body of work was their strongest yet, they went ahead.  If you’re feeling fatigued by all the new stuff getting around, this album is an easy, enjoyable listen filled with everything you could want from classic metal/rock and roll. The band cite their influences as Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Thin Lizzy, Blue Oyster Cult, Kiss and Pentagram and fans of those bands definitely need to give Magick & Mischief a listen because it certainly fits into that realm. 

Rating: 3 out of 5.

FFO: Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Kiss

Magick & Mischief is out September 25 via Cruz Del Sur Music

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