Friday, June 21, 2024

Hard rockers WYTCH HAZEL release ‘II: Sojourn’

Wytch Hazel’s 2016 debut Prelude suggested these Lancastrians had the potential to become a significant entry into the world of hard rock. Two years on, they have released II: Sojourn, an album that, according to singer, guitarist and songwriter Colin Hendra is: “a concept album, but not in the traditional sense, it’s quite strongly themed: side A is ‘The Plight’ and side B is ‘The Victory’. It goes from negative subject matter to something far more lifted, almost yin and yang. Sides A and B are different works, but they’re meant to be together; the light highlights the dark.”

WYTCH HAZEL The rest of the band Alex Haslam (Guitars), Matt Gatley (Bass Guitar) and Jack Spencer (Drums) join with him to put together an album of 1980’s flavoured heavy rock. Their inspirations are obviously the twin guitar bands like Priest, Lizzy and Wishbone Ash. The strongest, and most obvious, is that of Wishbone Ash – even the cover is reminiscent of their Argus cover…but with a horse.

The slightly repetitive ballad, ‘Barrow Hill’ has organ backing (courtesy of Rob Last) and like the instrumental ‘Chorale’, takes them into 80’s Heep territory.

There is a Christian concept colouring in many of the songs, but it isn’t overt or preaching and therefore, more than acceptable to me. A standout track is ‘Victory’, with its Lizzy opening and Priest like structure. Elsewhere ‘Angel Take Me’ is an acoustic pleasure with Kieran O’Malley guesting on violin; ‘The Devil Is Here’ is their ‘Lights Out’ moment. ‘Save My Life’ has the Lizzy motif again, but with a great, disrupted riff and bass/drum pattern. ‘Still We Fight’ starts off with a slowed-down version of the intro to ‘Run to the Hills’ and then sounds like ‘Out in The Fields’ and yet together they form an enjoyable, Gary Moore styled rocking romp.

Overall this is a very enjoyable album. It may not stand above the many hard rock bands out there, but it’s better than a lot of them. If you like Ash, Heep, Lizzy and UFO, then there is a lot to be gleaned from this solid album of proficient rock. It’s slightly derivative, but the bands providing the inspiration are a good place to start.

Tom Dixon
Tom Dixon
North East born, South West domiciled music lover - mainly heavy rock & blues but not averse to other genres. I'm fortunate to have retired early & I can now take full advantage of the 40+ years I have spent collecting, listening, watching & playing (badly) & have enjoyed researching how blues in particular has shaped the music we know & love today. Now if only I could get my Strat & Musicman to sound in reality how they do in my head!

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