This post could also be an entry into our Heavy Delinquency series, as Wytch Hazel‘s fantastic II: Sojourn was released almost a year ago. This was also the album which turned me on to this fantastic band. I can’t for the life of me understand why it took me so long to write about it but here we are, standing with my shame. In any case, Wytch Hazel deals in a very specific and unique kind of traditional heavy metal music, splicing it with plenty of proto-metal and even folk rock influences. The end result is an album well served by its title, which evokes the mystical, nature, and a certain air of fuzzy magic realism. Let’s head on down for your (hopefully not) first listen!
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The opening track from this album is natural choice; it showcases everything that’s great about this album. From the pleasing and dreamy melody of the main riffs, through the 70’s tinged vocals (both backing and main) and all the way to the brief but effective scream right before the end of the track, “The Devil is Here” is a great example of how Wytch Hazel channel their disparate influences into a cohesive whole. The result, on this track and elsewhere on the album, is a classic, nostalgic sound, evoking wanderlust and the early days of the heavy metal genre.
However, Wytch Hazel also strip such throwback tendencies of their pretense and often stifled feel, injecting them instead with a minimalist energy and passion. Every note has a purpose and the genre influence are carefully curated; instead of trying to hit every single note from the period, Wytch Hazel pick and choose what they love about it and do that instead. For example, while the second track “Save My Life” does containing some galloping bass lines, overall the faster/proto-power metal influences are absent from this release. Instead, it flirts more with how prog rock influenced and evolved heavy metal, conjuring a more tripped out and hazy outlook on the genres.