Magick Rites and Spells
Reviewed By Andrew McKaysmith
Florence, Italy. The home of Renaissance art and beautiful architecture. This is the city that houses the Duomo Cathedral, Botticelli's "The Birth of Venus", and the much lauded "David" sculpture by Michelangelo. All of these historical artefacts are some of the most incredible pieces of imagination converted to visible form on the planet. Florence is also the home of Psychedelic Witchcraft, a '70s inspired stoner/rock/doom band. Could they possibly be added to the list of icons?
Magick Rites and Spells is a compilation of newly recorded tracks and the band's debut EP. As with most bands in this genre you can expect the music to mimic a smattering of pre "Sabotage" Sabbath, "Wish You Were Here" era Pink Floyd and the two-blues (Blue Cheer and Blue Oyster Cult). Really, it comes down to the vocalist's contribution that ultimately separates a release of this nature from the other black light poster room-adorning, bell bottomed and Lemmy haired keepers of the flame.
Enter Virginia Monti. Virginia is one of the most vivacious and alluring front-women in rock n roll circa 2017. Without labouring the point, literally any band with Virginia out front is going to attract attention. She embodies the spirit of the powerful and demonic adversaries Vincent Price sought to oppose in many of his now classic historically themed horror films. Her voice reminds me of Lita Ford's, sans any of the "Kiss Me Deadly" sunshine kissed California beach-scape interfering with what is at times a prowling and ominous banshee howl.
Thankfully, the band are top notch. The actual playing is among the best that you will hear from a band in this genre. If Andrew Stockdale continues his run of outs with band members these guys could easily perform Wolfmother material across a tour or in a studio. I would not hesitate to assume that there has been great care to ensure that each riff, bass run, drum fill, and of course guitar solo adds a special something to each song. The verses are subtle and offer restraint, placing Virginia's voice in the middle of the mix. Movie samples (quoting witches and spells of course...) adorn many songs, however they don't come across as too gonzo or out of place.
Opener "Come a Little Closer" is the strongest track on the album, it is complemented by a sufficiently LSD-induced video that is readily available on You Tube. Other tracks that raise the hairs include "Angela" and a curiosity: a cover of the Lemmy penned track "The Dark Lord" from his days in Sam Gopal.
I read with interest on one of Virginia's Social media posts her frustration with domestic show promoters. She mentions that it seems that many promoters are after bands from outside the Italian scene. If Psychedelic Witchcraft have difficulty playing local shows to sate their performance desire then Italy's loss is the rest of the world's gain. Given the stellar performance on Magick Rites and Spells, if the band are willing to travel (possibly even re-locate to England or North America as so many Australian bands have done over the years), and the opportunity to tour opening for a band with a broad reach and appeal such as Opeth or even Mastadon is available, then they could go a long, long way.