WYTCH HAZEL – IV : Sacrament (2023) *HQ*

WYTCH HAZEL - IV Sacrament (2023) - lossless full

For many all-time-great rock bands in the ascendant, the fourth album is often the point where youthful years of febrile creativity and progressive momentum culminate in a masterwork for the ages, setting the seal on an early signature sound while opening it up to future possibilities.
Since their beginnings, Lancaster, UK, rockers WYTCH HAZEL have embodied that old-fashioned notion of unstoppable progress, and their upcoming album ”IV: Sacrament” via Metal Blade Records proves to be not only the quartet’s most classically beautiful production in the vein of Thin Lizzy, Praying Mantis, Blue Oyster Cult, etc, but their strongest yet front-to-back collection of affecting hooks and ageless melodies.
While bands dabbling in retro metal / hard rock are a dime a dozen, Wytch Hazel bring an earnestness to what they do that somehow makes their output feel fresh and timeless.

Hooks are ever present and there’s a special ‘something’ in their writing. Mere seconds into enormous opener “The Fire’s Control” I felt I was hearing a hidden track from and early ’80s LP. Effective, stripped-down 70s hard rock mixed with NWoBHM ideas, carried by basic, gloriously catchy riffs and slick vocal lines that act like Crazy Glue on your brain. It feels like prime Blue Oyster Cult fused with Angel Witch and that’s a recipe I’ll put my trust in every time. It’s such a simple little song but you won’t want it to end. The chorus is like flypaper and the whole construct is hot tar.

“Angel of Light” is the same recipe with a different fruit topping and it too cannot be denied or resisted. That lead riff is fire and Colin Hendra’s soothing vocals could tame a rampaging Cyclops Viking. It feels worshipful and uplifting and yes, it has Thin Lizzy on it.
The first four cuts are all excellent, with the might and majesty of “Strong Heart” being another unstoppable paeon to piousness and purity, and even my ungodly soul is here for it. It’s like AC/DC doing church rock and you should want that in your sinner’s veins. So uplifting, so catchy, so damn good, it angers the Devil in me.

“A Thousand Years” has a chorus that’s sneaky infectious. “Endless Battle” is a stout, endearing ode to spilling blood in the name of the Sweet and Fluffy Lord that makes me want to pick up the Sword of Holy Vengeance, and that chorus is low-key massive (all things in moderation, my son).
“Future is Gold” is effective and brooding with a touch of melancholy, and I like it a lot. Closer “Digging Deeper” is a lesser chestnut though, not quite as essential as its companions. It ends things on an understated note though the sparkling guitar work is lovely.

At a super tight 43 minutes – classic LP length folks – there’s not much fat on this holy cow. Only the closer exceeds the 5-minute mark whereas most selections dwell in the 3-4 minute window – great rockers. The production is lovingly warm and old timey, with the guitars sounding bright and vibrant. Great retro stuff.
Highly Recommended


01 – The Fire’s Control
02 – Angel of Light
03 – Time and Doubt
04 – Strong Heart
05 – Deliver Us
06 – A Thousand Years
07 – Gold Light
08 – Endless Battle
09 – Future is Gold
10 – Digging Deeper

Vocals, Drums, Guitars, Piano & Organ – Colin Hendra
Guitars – Alex Haslam
Bass – Andrew Shackleton
Mandolin & Mellotron – Ed Turner


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