Review: SpellBook - Magick & Mischief
If you’re not from York, Pennsylvania or the surrounding areas, you’ve probably never heard of it. It’s easy to miss on a map right between Baltimore and Harrisburg, but you may be familiar with some of its products like Harley Davidson motorcycles, +Live+, and even Getting It Out Podcast! However, the latest and greatest to emerge from the home of the country’s oldest state fair are the wizards in SpellBook and their debut LP Magick & Mischief.
Calling this record a debut is a bit misleading, formerly known as Witch Hazel, the band recently switched monikers to SpellBook and already has a few records under their old name. It’s total speculation, but the similarity and popularity of England’s Wytch Hazel likely influenced that decision. Regardless, I am personally glad they’ve made the change. I lived in the same town as this band for many years and never checked them out because I’m a judgemental dickhead and didn’t like their name. I still think they could use a space in SpellBook, but it’s time for me to let it go and let the rock and roll do the talking.
“Wands To The Sky” kicks Magick & Mischief off in proto-metal gallup with a little Thin Lizzy flavor that really sets the tone for the entire record. If the imagery wasn’t enough, the lyrics confirm that you just entered the world of nerdery and there will be no apologies. “Black Shadow” bursts with Black Sabbath energy from the Iommi like riffs to the Ozzy-ish vocals of Nate Tyson. Did I hear a harmonica in there too?
The fun in this record is the “no rules” approach. Usually bands playing homage to the greats like Sabbath, Blue Cheer, Deep Purple, etc., stick too tight to the formula. SpellBook expands on their influences and adds their own touches that put them a step ahead of their contemporaries. They effectively remove the “retro” tag many bands are unfairly labeled and modernize the rock and roll that persists fifty years later.
All of their punches don’t land. “Dead Detectives” is a meandering 11 minute saga that rocks in spots, but goes too far off the rails for this listener. Sometimes that’s what happens when a band really goes for it and you’ve got to respect that.
Magick & Mischief is a fantastic record for any seasoned rock and roll veteran or novice. Maybe there’s a little hometown bias, but I think York, PA found it’s next thing to brag about.