At this year’s Desertfest we have been gifted with a rare apparition: Sweden’s elusive psychedelic doom icons WITCHCRAFT. Initially formed as a Pentagram tribute act in 2000, it’s no surprise Witchcraft earned the affection of many, filling a Bobby Liebling shaped hole in their hearts. After allowing themselves to become a fully fledged band, their self-titled debut in 2004 earned them an international cult following, which continued to grow with its follow up ‘Firewood’. Since then, the band has carved out its own path, evolving both musically and aesthetically over the years. 2012’s ‘Legend’ saw a shift in dynamics, as the band opened itself to modern recording equipment and a ‘cleaner’ sound, culminating in their latest release, ‘Nucleus’ (2016). For this offering, mastermind Magnus Pelander stripped the band down to a power trio, with the result sounding fuller and richer textured than ever, evoking early Candlemass.   


Whether they’re channeling 70s rock, acid folk, doom, or prog, Pelander and his chosen coven never fail to conjure an atmosphere of sabbatical rites, remaining true to their influences while still leaving space for creative development. For Pelander, Witchcraft’s musical evolution has been one of creative exploration, only releasing new material when the time feels right, rather than conforming to the now expected biennial album release cycle; in their two decades of activity we have just 5 (much savoured) studio albums. Pelander is no stranger to letting fans wait til he’s ready to release something he believes in.


Hot off performances at In Flames’ Borgholm Brinner festival in Sweden (at Borgholm Castle, no less) and Norway’s Inferno Metal Fest last summer, it’s clear that something’s brewing in the Witchcraft cauldron. Pelander has no intention of stopping, but he doesn’t just play anywhere for the sake of it. So we here at Desertfest are pretty damn pleased to be welcoming Witchcraft over to our festival stage for the first time at our 9th installment this spring. 

Rumour has it, it’s been 10 years since Witchcraft last played in London - who knows when they’ll return? One thing’s for sure, their set at Desertfest is not to be missed.


Words: Holly Carlson @hollythelamb