Any album named after, and inspired by a 17th Century Rabbi who claimed to be the messiah and started the Jewish Sabbatean movement, Sabbatai Zevi see’s Death SS alumni Thomas Hand Chaste’s Witchfield offering up a holy feast of atmosphere laden doom with a side of gothic (small g) theatre.
For Witchfield Thomas takes on the keyboards and drums on this release with Baka Bomb on the bass (aliterationtastic), Piranha and Andrea Cardelino on Guitars whist Giovanni Cardellino AKA John Goldfinch provides the larynx. On this album there are so many guest musicians the last page of the booklet looks like a Pannini sticker album! On this album Thomas has got the right man or woman in for each job at hand.
The intro to the 8 tracks starts with a clock ticking and a beat which immediately brings to mind Northampton’s finest and their track about the demise of a certain Eastern European actor. The Italian spoken passage soon gives way to “Living on Trees” and brings to mind early occult acts like Black Widow with its laid back groove and otherworldly air. Psychedelic guitar lines weave in and out of the funeral passages and there is even a hint of Sabbath in there towards the end.
The title track is up next and there is a whiff of epic Iron Maiden about it. The track starts darkly and ominously enough with the keys adding a religious air to proceedings before the baby wah pedal is broken out. Towards the end the vocal line has a timbre of To Tame a Land or For the Greater Good of God by Maiden. It works here and adds to the gravitas of the track.
“Continent” which follows sees Tiziana Radis take over on vocals to provide a gentle lullaby that has an almost trip hop vibe which is in keeping of the tone of the album but tweaking the genres refreshingly. Thomas himself gets to use his pipes on “I Feel the Pain” which is a solid dark rock number but suffers next to its predecessor. “Walk” meanders out next. A melancholy melody with a nice baritone offered by Runal , this track is a little muddled and reminds me of some of the filler on old Nightbreed compilations.
“Make up your Mind” finally lets John Goldfinch get in on the act and he enters with a light folkish vocal. Listening to this track I thought that it could not be an original as it has such a 70’s vibe. It is a cover version, originally recorded by Quatermass a pro band from London. Witchfield take the lead from Quatermass and really run with it. Hammond solos, spiralling bass lines and wild drum beats, if I had a lava lamp it would be pulsing with pleasure. For me this is the highlight of the album.
My CD inlay states that there are two more tracks but I can only find one so it is with Heart of a Soldier that Witchfield say farewell. The psyche vibe is still there but darker once more and back to the Black Widow vibe which is fitting . The circle remains unbroken.
This collection came out in March so you should be able to find it via Black Widow records or elsewhere. When Witchfield stay leftfield they really have something and the musicianship really comes to the fore creating an ethereal vibe. The Euro gothic rock that is a minor element on the album is a bit pedestrian and old velvet hat. The bellbottoms suit you better peeps.
(6.5/10 Matt Mason)