Wytch Hazel – Wytch Hazel III: Pentecost Review

Steel prophecies are to be heeded! Back in the Year of Our Lord 2018 I covered the sophomore release by U.K. retro rockers Wytch Hazel and verily did I proclaim that II: Sojourn sounded like the album that drops right before a band uncorks their truly killer magnum opus. Well kiddies, that .44 magnum is here with Wytch Hazel III: Pentecost. Everything that worked on II has been dialed up to XI here, and everything the band did well last time they do better still. The same throwback Angel Witch1 meets Thin Lizzy and Slough Feg sound is back, but the writing is vastly improved and the songs have more hooks than Fisherman’s Wharf. Buckle on your time machine, peeps, because we’re off to the Wytch, and we may never, never, never come home.

In a really small nutshell, this is first class guitar rock from another age. It’s a little bit rustic, folksy and stuck in the 70s, but boy howdy does it kick ass and drag you into the past. Opener “He is the Fight” is a Grade A album kickstarter in every sense. The simple but catchy-as-fook twin guitar harmonies are infectious and Colin Hendra’s old timey vocals recall the earliest days of the NWoBHM as well as the 70s glory of Thin Lizzy and Jethro Tull. The chorus is bigger than Jesus, which is highly appropriate as there’s a whole lotta Jesus going on here subject matter-wise and I don’t even care. You simply can’t spin this tune and not find it endearing. And the power of Christ keeps compelling you on follow ups like “Spirit and Fire” and “I Am Redeemed,” the latter of which could have fallen off the back of a Thin Lizzy tour bus. So many hooks, so many awesome guitar harmonies, so much winning (for the Lord). It’s almost too much fun in this dark age of COVID and I feel shame for the lightness in my sinner’s heart.

I would be cursed if I failed to mention the awesomeness of “Archangel.” It’s got an understated chorus that clicked in my brain on first spin and now sits on a throne of righteousness surveying the regions of my frontal lobe it has conquered. This is one of my favorite songs of 2020 and soon Madam X will force me to banish it from the House of Steel forevermore, for it offends her black metal sensibilities with its white light and goodly energy. But wait, there’s more! If you act now, you also get the highly infectious “Dry Bones,” which by itself would justify buying this holy disc of wax and/or plastic. This one injects a healthy dose of Grand Magus-style epic metal and muscle, and includes some surprisingly high-pitched vocal heroics from Father Hendra. His voice eerily mirrors Magus‘ JB Christoffersson at times, which is never a bad thing. “I Will Not” is another absolute beast of a lost age and you will be unable to resist its throwback charms no matter how woebegone you are. III: Pentecost has the best opening 7 song run of the year and you can’t escape the tide of rock delights that carries you deep into the album’s belly like poor olde Jonah. The final third is quite good but not as impressive as that opening salvo, but as a package, this platter is a powerful testament to the band’s evolution. And at just under 43 minutes it’s exactly the right length and feels like a product of the editing era. It would fit perfectly on vinyl and there’s little in the way of chaff. If I had a quibble, it’s that “The Crown” is too low energy, though it’s still an interesting tune.

I can’t say enough about the guitar sizzle delivered by Alex Haslam and Colin Hendra. This album is loaded down with so many charming and rocking guitar riffs and harmonies that it’s got to be the product of divine intervention. It’s not like they are trying to flatten you with techy chops and white hot solo-work either. No, they rely on simple, ear-catching little grooves and understated but jammy harmonizing and it gets under your skin and keeps you locked in and praying for more. Hendra’s vocals are the icing on the angel food cake. Not harsh or in-your-face and very much retro in delivery, but note perfect for the style and easy to partake of. This is tight tuneage by talented troubadours and the devil is in the details of the first-rate song writing. These cuts actually cut deep.

Look, I get that not everyone will appreciate the whole “Jesus is the light” lyrical approach,2 but If loving Jesus rock this good is wrong, I don’t want to be right. III: Pentecost is heading straight for my year end list like a runaway baptismal font and everyone is gonna get soaked. I suggest you reconsider your life choices, get your hands on this album, and get right with the Wytch. Praise III.


Rating: 4.0/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Bad Omen Records
Websites: wytchhazel.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/wytchhazel
Releases Worldwide: October 30th, 2020

Show 2 footnotes

  1. Colin Hendra, formerly of Angel Witch, is on board.
  2. In fact, several AMG staffers found this too “preachy” for their tastes.
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