Lancashire’s soaring hard rock sect, Wytch Hazel, will release its shimmering new album, Wytch Hazel III: Pentecost, on October 30, 2020 via independent underground label Bad Omen Records (Satan’s Satyrs, Spell). Recorded by ex-Purson multi-instrumentalist Ed Turner, the quadruple-tracked record imbues a rich, anthemic late night drivetime vibe, passionately embracing the most high-end, smash-hit classic rock and heavy metal circa its late 1970’s heyday. Wytch Hazel III: Pentecost succeeds the band’s 2018 sophomore release, ‘II: Sojourn’, and 2016 debut, ‘Prelude’, glorified by Under the Radar as “an invocation of rock and roll at its purest and, more specifically, of all that made the New Wave of British Heavy Metal in the late ’70s so special”.
A first offering of what ‘Wytch Hazel III: Pentecost‘, holds in promise can be experienced now as the band debuts the new song “I Am Redeemed“. Crank it to high heaven!
Within moments of pressing play on III: Pentecost, there are gorgeous self-professed touches of Black Sabbath, Blue Öyster Cult, AC/DC and early Scorpions. “With the soloing I was trying to go for Michael Schenker,” beams vocalist/guitarist Colin Hendra shyly. As a child, Hendra, the band’s founding member and guiding light, played drums in brass bands and orchestras, studied classical piano and sang in the school chamber choir, but at 16 the direction of his life changed forever, after a revelation we can all relate to: “Iron Maiden was the main reason I started playing electric guitar,” he reveals. “I remember borrowing The Number Of The Beast off a friend and was just blown away – heavy metal was an obsession from that point on!”
Among many savvy touchstones, the new album’s concerted hike in professional quality across production, song writing and performance was inspired by one especially lofty exemplar of the form: “What I had in mind was a singalong album, the album full of hits, a little bit like Fleetwood Mac‘s Rumours,” confesses Hendra. “I’ve never believed in filler – there’s no point recording something unless it’s the best it can be – so it was just striving for as much excellence as possible.” The almighty effort shines bright in the smooth, diamond-hard sound and immersive layers (acoustic guitars, synthesized strings, haunting piano, rainfall samples, Bible readings, rampant Hammond organ work on I Am Redeemed, and Colin’s dad’s harrowing cello rendition of Chopin‘s Funeral March) of the recording. “This album has been an absolute obsession,” stresses the band leader.
With the LP’s title offering the most unambiguous statement yet of Hendra‘s Pentecostal Christianity, the man’s lyrics are even more nakedly devotional, his sincere, sensitive voice bristling with even stronger conviction; an avenue of inspiration that Wytch Hazel pretty much has to themselves in the modern metal scene. “I play in a heavy metal band and I write songs about God – it’s actually quite a rebellious thing!” chuckles Colin. Perhaps the most lateral comparison is to a band from the opposite spiritual realm, with the track “Archangel” an explicit homage to Swedish faux-Satanic devil cult Ghost. “I find them fascinating, Ghost; musically great, the song writing is spot-on,” enthuses the frontman. “We share an intrinsic connection, with [Bad Omen honcho] Will Palmer being the person who discovered us both, that’s a special thing in some way. I’m really happy with that song. I wanted to write a song about Lucifer, but it had to be done right; I didn’t want it to be a song glorifying Satan, so it’s a song about, why does he get all the glory?!”
Lest any heathen headbanger start to fear any kind of evangelical conversion agenda, Hendra expands on his position: “Music is created for all, it’s a common grace for everyone,” he affirms, “which is why the music that shows the glory of God the most, in my opinion, is not music created by Christians. It’s Black Sabbath, you know!”
III:Pentacost track listing
1.) He is the Fight
2.) Spirit and Fire
3.) I Am Redeemed
5.) Dry Bones
7.) I Will Not
8.) Reap the Harvest
9.) The Crown
10.) Ancient of Days
In addition to vocalist/guitarist Colin Hendra, Wytch Hazel features Alex Haslam (guitar), Andy Shackleton (bass) and Jack Spencer (drums).
Wytch Hazel online: