Underground Sounds: Wytch Hazel – II: Sojourn

Label: Bad Omen Records
Band: Wytch Hazel
Origin: United Kingdom

The Lancashire band Wytch Hazel has carved out a special place for their classic heavy metal sound. They trace their roots to the more pre-metal bands with a heavy and epic sound, which is an intriguing experience for those who love a good rocking piece of music. Inspired by the likes of Judas Priest, Wishbone Ash and Thin Lizzy, you’re in for a treat on this concept album.
Wytch Hazel are, after all, storytellers with a traditional approach to the craft of music making, which is exemplified by their coherent and solid releases. I find it should be noted, that Christian influences are clearly present in the music, which might deter some from checking them out. Don’t let that frighten you though, because it only enhances the conviction and strength of their subject matter and sound on ‘II: Sojourn’. They’re not a Christian band though, but they have religious members in their ranks.
The vocals of Colin Hendra are like honey, so smooth. Those merge with the guitars by himself and Alex Haslam, that truly have that old screaming and wailing quality with a silky touch to them. You can hear a little of Iron Maiden in their ‘Brave New World’ days too, in my humble opinion. Yet, for the influences of these gents, we can go back quite a bit, as there are some music students that take elements of Baroque and Renaissance music into Wytch Hazel, creating a diverse and captivating tapestry of wildly different music, that still resonates as classic hard rock with an edge.
Outstanding tracks are the likes of ‘Save My Life’ and ‘Come See My Demons’, where the clarity of the voice gets special attention. Surely, there are some of these well-known cliches hammered into the lyrics, but the solid bass and drums provide that stiff backbone of the song (in the hands of Matt Gatley on bass and Jack Spencer on drums). They’re even getting to a rather epic point on ‘Victory’, but always stay mellow and grounded with those languid guitar parts, simply sliding along.
The grand finale comes with ‘Angel Take Me’, where additional piano and violin enrich the song, by the hand of Rob Last and Kieran O’Malley. It opens with that soft acoustic playing but slowly unfolds into a blooming dirge. Lamenting vocals lead the way out of the magical world, crafted by Wytch Hazel. An astonishingly great effort.
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