"Magick & Mischief"

By Theron Moore

What in the good lord did I just listen to and why did it take me three torturous tries to get through it?  Here’s how the record was hyped: “Vintage, adventurous proto-metal that taps into the deep well of ’70s rock!  Formerly known as WITCH HAZEL, SPELLBOOK marries BLACK SABBATH, PENTAGRAM and progressive rock for seven songs of entrancing classic metal!” Ugh.  Or rather, Meh.  Let’s delve a bit deeper.

“Magick & Mischief” is seven songs of hit and miss, retro/stoner/wannabe/SABBATH worship/ rock.  The closest this band gets to PENTAGRAM is via the band / music, not the vocals.  “Motorcade” channels an EDGAR WINTER vibe, so there’s your 70’s rock influence (I guess), and if the last song on this record, “Dead Detectives,” qualifies as prog rock, I swear I’ll give away my YES and STARCASTLE vinyl immediately.  

“Black Shadow,” “Ominous Skies” and “Amulet Fare Thee Well” are the standout tunes I’ll point out.  In fact, if “Magick & Mischief” (as a whole) was more like these three songs, this would’ve been a killer disc but, it’s not.  

And for the record, SPELLBOOK might wanna think about paying HEART a royalty for the “homage” they pay to “Crazy On You” at the 4:04 mark of “Amulet Fare Thee Well,” so there’s another ode to the 70’s.  Again.  I guess.

To get to the heart of the matter (no joke intended), SPELLBOOK – the band – rocks. The singer, though, is the sticking point. Vocalist Nate Tyson sounds like OZZY on helium, and not in that good, “fun” way either.  Remember the band ZEBRA?  Like ZEBRA meets “Technical Ecstasy” OZZY but terribly off mark.

The final song on “Magick & Mischief” is “Dead Detectives” which is by far, one of the worst songs I’ve heard in years, and trust me, I sat through the entire record of “Space Ninjas From Hell” by VICTORIUS in 2019 which was a painful exercise in dry heaving and explosive diarrhea.  

The first three minutes of “Dead Detectives” is a shitty, jazzy, VAN MORRISON inspired train wreck made worse by these misplaced, film noir, audio snippets inserted throughout the song.  When the band finally starts to rock (haha), it’s way too late to connect with it.  

If you do check out SPELLBOOK, focus on the three songs mentioned above – “Black Shadow,” “Ominous Skies” and “Amulet Fare Thee Well.”  Ignore everything else.  SPELLBOOK tries too hard to be something they’re not – vintage / retro, which points to a bigger problem the band has:  Identity.  Do they know who they are, what their true sound is?  I don’t think they do.  Not yet.  And that, dear reader, is why “Magick & Mischief” is the unpolished turd it is.