Over the past near-decade, Lancashire’s medieval metal phenomenon WYTCH HAZEL have been honing an uncommonly wholesome, rustic and devotional brand of timewarped hard rock that’s all their own, with 2016’s Prelude and 2018’s II: Sojourn summoning to mind fevered images of Robin Hood and his Merry Men grooving to Jethro Tull and Thin Lizzy. Yet within moments of pressing play on their third LP, III: Pentecost, the musty mystical minstrelsy takes a back seat in favour of a rich, sumptuous, anthemic late-night drivetime vibe, passionately embracing the most high-end smash-hit classic rock and metal circa its late 1970s heyday.
“I thought I put a lot into the second album, but this album has been an absolute obsession,” stresses the band leader, Colin Hendra. “Every aspect had to be as good as possible. We’ve gone back and forth, Ed was tinkering with it for months on end. There’s quadruple tracking going on with the rhythm parts, then we’ve doubled, tripled and quadrupled all our lead parts to get that richness and fullness of sound, all meticulously planned with pages and pages of organisational notes. It wasn’t just ‘get in the studio and see how it goes!’” he laughs. “One day I did 14 hours of vocal recording. All vocals are double-tracked, I can’t express how much hard work that is. The last album feels like a breeze compared to what we’ve done with this - and I don’t plan on ramping it down!”
Musically 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 Colin—while the scampering headbanger I Will Not initially took a nod from Angel Witch, who Hendra was helping out on second guitar back in 2015 when the track was composed, before studio treatment made it sound “a lot more Wytch Hazelly”. But perhaps the most lateral comparison is to a band from the opposite spiritual realm, with Archangel an explicit homage to Swedish faux-Satanic devil cult Ghost. “I find them fascinating, Ghost; musically great, the songwriting is spot-on,” enthuses the frontman. “We share an intrinsic connection, with [Bad Omen honcho] Will Palmer being the person who discovered us both.
“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!”