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Witchwood - 'Handful Of Stars' http://www.rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/78/d9/55/witchwood-handful-of-stars-47-1519242022.jpg Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     February 21, 2018    
 
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It will likely make you want to track back to the debut while waiting patiently for the second full-blown album.

Formed from the embers of the delightfully monikered Buttered Bacon Biscuits in 2014, Witchwood's debut offering, 'Litanies From The Woods', caused something of a stir in their homeland of Italy when released in 2015.

Two years on and 'Handful Of Stars' is not so much the follow-up, but more of a stop gap to bide time before the release of their second full album. Maybe calling it a stop gap is somewhat disingenuous because 'Handful Of Stars' clocks in at over forty-five minutes, almost quarter of an hour longer than 'Van Halen I', and features three brand new recordings, two covers and a new version of 'Handful Of Stars' from their debut album.

Opener 'Presentation: Under The Willow' sets the scene before 'Like A Giant In A Cage' and 'A Grave Is The River' get the motor running. If you have a passion for seventies Hard Rock then there's a lot to like here. Big, heavy riffs and strong melodies are all intertwined with some serious Hammond Organ and flute interplay. Think of a collision between Uriah Heep and Jethro Tull, with a slab of Deep Purple chucked in for good measure, and you can't go too far wrong. It's as if the musical world ended in 1976 and that's no bad thing here.

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One of the strengths of this is that while the riffs are heavy, they don't dominate but instead enhance the atmosphere, giving the music space to breathe, to ebb and flow and allows ideas to develop over the course of the songs. While there are Prog elements at play, there is never the feeling that they smother the music. There is no extending an idea just for the sake of it, everything feels as though it has its place and that place is to serve the song. A few bands could well learn a lesson from this.

Covers of 'Flaming Telepaths' by Blue Oyster Cult and Heep's 'Rainbow Demon' gives a decent indication of where Witchwood are coming from, and a pretty good job they make of them too, sticking fairly close to the feel of the originals.

As a teaser to introduce Witchwood to a wider audience between full albums then 'Handful Of Stars' does exactly that, and it will likely make you want to track back to the debut while waiting patiently for the second full-blown album which will hopefully follow fairly soon.

Mick Burgess

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