Sunday, January 02, 2022

Witchwood - Litanies From The Woods (Superb Hardrock Italy 2015)

Size: 212 MB
Bitrate: 320
Ripped by: ChrisGoesRock
Artwork Included

The Buttered Bacon Biscuits were a band from Faenza, a town located in an area called Romagna, that had been active from 2008 to 2013 with a style rooted in the seventies and consisting in a mix of psychedelia, hard rock and a pinch of progressive. They had a good live activity and in 2010 released a debut album entitled From The Solitary Woods that was distributed by the independent label Black Widow Records and got some good reviews but the band did not last enough for a follow up. 

After the band split up, in 2014 from their ashes came to life a new band called Witchwood, a quintet featuring three former members of the Buttered Bacon Biscuits, Riccardo Dal Pane (vocals, guitars, mandolin, percussion), Stefano Olivi (Hammond, piano, synth, Moog) and Andrea Palli (drums, percussion) along with Samuele Tesori (flute, harmonica) and Luca Celotti (bass). 

In 2015 this new band, with the help of some guests, released an interesting debut album on the independent label Jolly Roger Records, Litanies From The Woods, where they managed to mix hard rock, progressive, psychedelia and southern rock in a personal way adding fresh ideas to vintage sounds and obscure atmospheres borrowed from the past. Their love for bands such as Uriah Heep, Jethro Tull, Deep Purple, Hawkwind or Lynyrd Skynyrd is apparent but the songwriting is good and the overall sound is full of energy and passion. The result is a nice example of what now is called classic rock and in my opinion it is really worth listening to...

The opener "Prelude" is just a short electric guitar intro that leads to the caustic "Liar", a heartfelt complaint against a world where appearances are more important than real values and democracy is nothing but an illusion conjured up by cynical politicians, a world where the lies of the media hide the dirtiest sins and where dreams fill the graves...

On the following "A Place For The Sun" the music and lyrics evoke the cathartic power of music and invite you to live day by day to tackle the adversities of life, always looking for the hidden place in your soul where the sun always shines...

"Rainbow Highway" deals with the wish of freedom and adventure of a boy who grew up in a small town, surrounded by boredom and old traditions. The music and lyrics here evoke the dream of a life without rules, a wish of absolute freedom, a fantastic ride on the shoulders of a rainbow demon to feel the wind blowing free and wild all around... Hey boy, pick up your heart and run! Before you lose your soul...

The hypnotic, psychedelic "The Golden King" conjures up the image of a caravan coming from a distant planet, sailing through endless skies... Listen to the litanies for the mysterious Golden King and let him take you away for a ride to his palace to celebrate a strange Sabbath!

The following "Shade Of Grey" is a dark, haunting track evoking Gothic atmospheres and a disquieting creature from an hidden world moving through the woods. You can listen to the songs soaring from the woods as you get lost in a starry night...

Next comes the romantic ballad "The World Behind Your Eyes" that is dedicated to Laura, the lovely muse of lyricist and composer Riccardo Dal Pane. It leads to the long, complex instrumental "Farewell To The Ocean Boulevard" featuring many changes in rhythm and atmosphere, a real epic where the band showcase all their musicianship and creativity swinging from calm, relaxed acoustic passages to fiery electric rides and vice versa. A wonderful track!

"Song Of Freedom" is a celebration of the life on the road, the song of a travelling man in love with his sweet freedom. This nice mix of country rock, blues, hard rock and psychedelic dreams à la easy rider leads to the long closer "Handful Of Stars", a beautiful suite divided into three parts that reminds me of the atmospheres of the Dream Cycle stories by H.P. Lovecraft and deals with haunting and dangerous dreams. On the first part, "The Gates Of Slumber" the music and lyrics conjure up the image of a dreamer lost in his room with floating planets all around while stars fill his mind and heart... He falls in a timeless abyss of dark dreams that the evocative music of next two instrumental parts, "Nox Erat..." (It was night) and "Epilogue: Litanies For A Starless Night", let your imagination free to build up...

Litanies From The Woods is Witchwood's first album. The band came into existence in 2014 out of a group called Buttered Bacon Biscuits that I haven't heard of, but they released an album in 2010, From The Solitary Woods, on Black Widow Records. Basically most members came from BBB with only a new bass player.

There is some nice variation on the disc, like the first proper song Liar that suddenly treats us to a jazzy interlude led by flute. Or the psychedelic and somewhat dreamy/trippy The Golden King with a mysterious undertone. Mostly, however, it's progressive hard rock of the kind many of us enjoy immensely. The World Behind Your Eyes brings typical Tull-like flute for the first time. 

A bit more like Led Zep is the 9 minute Song Of Freedom that starts bluesy with harmonica and initially has acoustic guitar. This then explodes in typical Deep Purple style (and even the singing here reminds me of Gillan). Cool roaring organ. The 10 minute Handful Of Stars brings soaring progressive hard rock that shows what Deep Purple would have sounded like if they had enlisted a flute player. 

Actually, the man on the flute takes over halfway through and leads us again into Tull-inspired realms. Even longer are the two very long tracks on the album, Shade Of Grey and the 15 minute Farewell To The Ocean Boulevard. I'm not going to describe those - just experience for yourself. All in all great stuff and no weak moments.

Although I do have the CD version, this kind of music should actually be enjoyed on vinyl, and so it's only just that it's also released as a double LP in a gatefold sleeve (Jolly Roger Records JRR 063). In two versions even; an ordinary black one and a limited numbered purple vinyl. Good luck finding the latter as it's limited to 100 copies only and sold out already...

Line-up / Musicians
- Riccardo "Ricky" Dal Pane - lead vocals, backing vocals, electric guitar, slide guitar, acoustic guitar, mandolin, percussion
- Stefano "Steve" Olivi - Hammond C100, Leslie 760, Moog Voyager, piano
- Andrea Palli - drums, percussion
- Samuele Tesori - flute, harmonica
- Luca Celotti - bass

01. Prelude - Liar (7:23)
02. A Place for the Sun (7:11)
03. Rainbow Highway (5:54)
04. The Golden King (6:24)
05. Shade of Grey (11:04)
06. The World Behind Your Eyes (5:43)
07. Farewell to the Ocean Boulevard (15:27)
08. Song of Freedom (9:31)
09. Handful of Stars (10:09)

Part I : Witchwood I
Part II : Witchwood II
Part I : Witchwood I
Part II : Witchwood II
Part I : Witchwood I
Part II : Witchwood II