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Witchcraft – Egos Never Die (Reissue)

Witchcraft
Egos Never Die (Reissue)
by Neil Cook at 21 February 2021, 4:14 PM

Cult Metal Classic who specialize in resurrecting lost Metal treasures and curios, and this collection from Norwegian Metalers WITCHCRAFT is definitely a curio, and yes probably qualifies as a treasure. This collection is essentially split between tracks from their 1986-88 demo “Egos Never Die” for the first 4 songs and 83-88’s “664 The House Next Door” making up the balance of the 10 tracks presented here.

Essentially the brainchild of Guitarist (and Bassist) Tony Drozdjek, the influences are clearly NWOBHM like MAIDEN and PRIEST etc., especially on the “664” material.  The “Egos” stuff is, well let’s put it this way, if IRON MAIDEN, KANSAS and MARILLION had a threesome, then this is what that bastard offspring would produce. Title track “Egos Never Die”, as is “Egos Slight Return” later, is fairly straight forward, all be it Keyboard heavy, Heavy Metal, echoes of RAINBOW, especially the little cod-classical guitar runs thrown in for good measure over a Pomp Rock organ/keyboard base.  The vocals take some time to grow on you I’ll admit, and the production is a little muddy, after all these songs were taken from a demo.

It’s with the 10 minuet second track “Schizophrenia” where things get a little weird and wonderful.  The kitchen sink, no the entire kitchen is thrown at this song.  All sorts of guitar cameos amongst the soring solos, keys of every type, vocals that go everywhere, times changes, manic bass runs and pounding drums.  Is it Metal? I it Pomp Rock?  Is it Prog? Nope its all of them and more.  The track goes everywhere.  Remembering the times we are taking this from, the track lives up to it’s title.  In these “enlightened” times I suspect the association with Mental Health may be frowned upon, but personally I think you can only view it as a historical document of it’s time.

Track 3 “Vexallarius Illiricus”, no me neither, is in a similar vein, taking us off into the more overtly Pomp and Prog arena.  Keyboards are not only king and Queen here, with the Guitars, Drums and Bass their able Knights of the realm.  Whereas the vocals are merely the Knave of the piece.  There is something a little off on the vocals, but too be honest with so much else going on they are almost superfluous.  There is even a bass line nicked straight out of “Heaven And Hell”, so much so I was expecting RJD to start up with “sing me a song, you’re the singer…”, and again running in at 10 minuets, you are certainly getting what you paid for.

Then we have  the “664” stuff.  This is generally more straight forward, leaning heavily a more “classic” 80’s Heavy Metal sound. No keys, just heavy licks and runs straight out of the early IRONS playbook.  Ranging from an instrumental guitar gallop of “Pennsylvania”, the moody mid-paced “The Eternal Balance” and “The Black Message”, both with some very dodgy vocals.  “Pain” again is a NWOBHM workout, that again doesn’t stray too from the sound of the neighbor’s at number 666.

Boy do these guys like a long song!  And “The Omen” is the longest in the set at almost 12 minuets. And this time the blokes from Brum have come to jam with Eddies mates.  There is a definite PRIEST feel to this one, or more accurately ROB HALFORD singing with the MAIDEN boys.  Actually, it is a decent song, and the vocals work too.  Actually “Ride” swings along in a similar fashion, only a lot shorter and with slightly iffier vocals.

It is hard to score this, because it is so all over the place.  There are some really decent songs, some hidden under muddy production, or with vocals that don’t live up to the musicians, and the first 4 songs are totally different in feel to the MAIDEN love-fest of the latter, but earlier in time stuff. I generally enjoyed it, but it is far from perfect. For once the overall score is not totally reflective of the fun and enjoyment of listening to this time-capsule. I would say give it a listen.

Songwriting: 8
Originality: 7
Memorability: 8
Production: 6

 

3 Star Rating

Tracklist:
Egos Never Die (1986-88):

1. Egos Never Die
2. Schizophrenia
3. Vexallarius Illiricus
4. Egos, Slight Return

664 The House Next Door (1983-85):

5. Pennsylvania
6. The Eternal Balance
7. The Black Message
8. Pain
9. The Omen
10. Ride
Lineup:
Tony Drozdjek – Bass, Guitar
Bjørn Ole Rasch – Keyboards (1-4)
Peter Holter Andersen – Vocals (1-4, 10)
Arthur Dominguez - Bass
Geir Chr. Bøe - Drums
Record Label: Cult Metal Classics
     


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Edited 13 April 2021
 

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