WITCHWOOD – Handful Of Stars

Jolly Roger 2016

WITCHWOOD - Handful Of Stars

WITCHWOOD –
Handful Of Stars

Something borrowed and something blue: songs from the wood to make you feel much better.

It takes some confidence for a new band to go for a bits-and-pieces approach but, having debuted with “Litanies From The Woods” in 2015, this Italian sextet sensed the expectation for its follow-up were high enough to present their fans with a pit-stop release now. To stress such a stance even more, the group wear their influences on the collective sleeve so proudly as to set the covers of HEEP‘s “Rainbow Demon” and BÖC’s “Flaming Telepaths” alongside new cuts on the album whose title track expands on the recording from the group’s first one. “Expands” is a key word here, as epic pieces like “Like A Giant In A Cage” create a spacious perspective in which rigid riffs, fluid flute and heavy Hammond blend organically into something hypnotic, hypnagogic even.

From the short intro of “Under The Willow” onward, folk motifs elevate the edifices built by the ensemble in a fantasy/sci-fi environment where any imaginable path is also imaginary and, thus, unpredictably arresting – which may seem weird given the band’s bent on the ’70s rock idiom. Yet while the vocal harmonies warm “Mother” once acoustic strum has become too chilly, notes of modern ennui in Ricky Dal Pane’s voice on “A Grave Is The River” provide a nice contrast to instrumental solemnity before, with the first of Antonino Stella’s guitar solos, a jazzy kind of sensibility emerges to further rivet the listener. As a result, the bar for the sextet’s next album is raised even higher now, but those able to reach for the stars will undoubtedly burn the sky.

*****

November 19, 2016

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