ALBUM REVIEW: Nucleus – Witchcraft

Witchcraft - Nucleus

WORDS: Laura McCarthy

The album begins with pretty, folky intro to Malstroem before gradually turning up the gain and making this a funky, darker song. A great way to start off a record, the music holds back just enough for the first quarter to keep your interests. However, once into the three minute mark, it feels as if the track is meandering slightly, and it’s with little anticipation that the vocals kick in, haunting and emotional as they are. It’s a very melodramatic track, reminiscent of something between HIM and GODSMACK, but lacks any really impact. A broken, out of tune outro might feel like something fresh, but it simply comes across as unpolished here.

Theory of Consequence is far more groove driven. Big, chunky chords with flicks of a riff, beating drums, and the vocals stronger than the previous track. Again, it’s nothing hugely original, but at least it’s got some heart to it rather than 8 minutes of messing around.

The Outcast is something more like indie rock than the heavier track that came before. More vocal uncertainty turn to hit Lou Reed styles only to wobble off.
Trying to pinpoint what the genre WITCHCRAFT is trying to fit into is hard, and not for the right reasons. They play well enough, and it’s no fault of the production, but the record feels like it’s been constructed without much vision. This is a string of songs that are perfectly decent for popping on in the car, but there is a lack of something vital.

Title track Nucleus falls for the trap of repeating phrasing on the guitar over and over far too long for a comfortable listen. The increase of strings and soft vocals is nice, but once again, Magnus Pelander’s vocal style adds in something of BOB DYLAN to the already odd vocal style. This is simply a drab song, lyrically and musically. For a track that is spanning over fourteen minutes long, it’s simply not enough to keep you interested in repeated chants and chords.

Now, with a name like An Exocism of Doubt, this song sound pack something good. Once again, this is a slow ballad, such as if NICK CAVE wanted to turn up the distortion occasionally. Trying to be fair to WITCHCRAFT, but after fifteen years of existence, this really shouldn’t be the kind of quality we expect from a seasoned band. There is a tedium to the guitar that just makes this feel tired, and anew lost to its inability to be any particular style of music. Thankfully a half decent riff means this track doesn’t end on such a drab note, but five songs in, listening is becoming hard work.

Things pick up a little with The Obsessed, although there is an attempt to change things up a bit between chorus and verse, which comes off fairly nicely. It’s clear that length does not equate to a better track. Sometimes a more trimmed down song makes for a better listen. To Transcend Bitterness finally feels like a finished track, with good lyrical delivery, and real thought into what is being played as opposed to monotonous churning of the same chords. This is a very good track that does not rush but has something to say and a consistent reason to listen.

Alas, we are back to the rolling melody with Helpless, using the same techniques as before. This is a very frustrating track, mainly due to the fact that at this point, any potential in here is simply lost to the utter cop out of chord patterns that are too dull to even consider. Not to mention there is definitely a portion of the very average solo that is out of tune. It feels unrehearsed and completely falls flat.
Treading the same path as before, the final track Breakdown is unbearably just like the others. You really struggle to find much difference between any of these songs. What aims to maybe be profound, stripped back and basic comes off as very tiresome. It’s hard to say, but the lyrics say it all here- “Forcing myself to listen”. Desperately trying to find something good in this record, only to be offered less than a half-baked attempt at something worthy of your time is disappointing. What might have been let off in one or two songs is the majority of the album, and it shifts from being tired, to being annoying, to just disheartening.

Nucleus seems a very wishy washy effort. This comes across as three guys messing around in a garage, rather than a focused, well written album by pro-musicians. There is obviously still talent in WITCHCRAFT, but true writing skills have been left out to in favour of creating something loose and directionless.

Rating: 4/10

Nucleus is out now via Nuclear Blast Records.