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(Bad Omen Records)
Release Date: Friday 22nd April 2016

Johnny Main

johnny main

wytch hazel

Formed in Lancaster in 2011, Wytch Hazel are inhabiting a realm where the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM) happened 600 years early, and where they are the band of choice for the discerning Plantagenet headbanger.

Influenced by the folk-rock eccentricity of Jethro Tull, the mystical harmony of Wishbone Ash and Thin Lizzy along with the exuberance of NWOBHM, this band have immersed themselves in sacred medieval influences including Henry VIII, Sacred vocal works and other Medieval and Renaissance music and what has emerged is a band who have tried hard to bring their own unique style to the genres of Hard Rock and Heavy Metal.

'Prelude' is their debut album, and its ten tracks have a running time of around fifty minutes but I can't help thinking that this is an almost perfect piece of work and kept me thoroughly entertained through numerous listens. Recorded at Foel Studio, Wales with ex-Purson multi-instrumentalist Ed Turner as producer, the band have created an incredible album that truly delivers something different.

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Simply put, it's an incredibly fun album to listen to. I mean, if you take the track 'Wytch Hazel', for example, it's a real high point of the album although I'm unsure which came first, the band name or the song. The track's a good fast paced number (one of the fastest tracks included on the album, actually) but it still maintains an overall simplicity to it. The guitar isn't too overpowering and the lyrics from frontman Colin Hendra are sung well as the beat from drummer Jack Spencer will have your foot tapping along. There's a slower mid-section before the well executed electric guitar comes to be the focus of the song but it's never at the expense of the rest of the instrumentation.

'Fight' on the other hand has Spencer filling out the sound with a metronomic beat during the intro before the galloping guitars from Hendra and guitarist Matt Gatley come in. It's not the fastest song here but the guitar sound is technical and well played whilst the vocals are short and clearly enunciated making it an enjoyable number. 'More Than Conquerers' in comparison is a slower paced track with the guitars leading the way until Spencer's drums burst through with precision on the complex beat as it becomes a mid-paced number which again features a swift guitar rhythm.

wytch hazel

Title track, 'Prelude', on the other hand, takes its time getting going as the lyrical guitar gives way to a soft and simple drum beat before the guitar seeps into the mix once more. You're pretty much two and a half minutes into the track before the electric guitar comes in and that's when the track really comes to life. It's not an overtly fast number but it does chug along at a fair pace, and the fact its an instrumental makes a somewhat unusual but very welcome addition to the album.

By the mid-point, you have 'Psalm' which is an incredibly restful track which features of a soft but passionate performance from Hendra, and it proves that his singing talent is without doubt. The main guitar is acoustic and that's latterly joined by an electric guitar and soft drum beat but it's the vocals that are the focus of the track here. It's a truly outstanding performance all round that I'm sure would be show stopper especially with the short and understated electric guitar solo.

'We Will Be Strong' which closes off the album has a strong Celtic feel to it as it bounces along at a fair pace and it's a classy way to end a very good album. I found Wytch Hazel by accident and I urge you to seek this album out as I'm sure you'll not be disappointed – I honestly can't recommend this album highly enough. Great original material with something different to offer the listener.

You can see the official video for 'We Will Be Strong' here:

'Prelude' Tracklisting:
Freedom Battle
Mighty King
More Than Conquerors
He Shall Reign
Dark Ages
Wytch Hazel
We Will Be Strong

Wytch Hazel are:
Colin Hendra – Vocals/Guitars
Matt Gatley – Guitar
Neil Corkery – Bass Guitar
Jack Spencer – Drums

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