It’s a significant year in the history of Wytch Hazel, for 2021 marks the ten-year anniversary of the band’s formation. In that time, the high-powered, hard rock outfit has released three albums, one EP, and two splits. Their most recent opus is the October-released Wytch Hazel III: Pentecost, a beautiful record, influenced by the titans of 1970s British hard rock and heavy metal. Released via Bad Omen Records, the album is the follow-up to the group’s breakthrough 2018 sophomore full-length, II: Sojourn.
In order to fully capture that high-end sound they were looking for, the quartet enlisted the services of ex-Purson multi-instrumentalist Ed Turner who helped guide them towards a rich, late-night drive vibe that reminds you of what made late ‘70s British metal so timeless. Through Pentecost’s ten tracks, you’ll discover magnificent touches of Black Sabbath, Blue Öyster Cult, AC/DC and early Scorpions that, along with Wytch Hazel’s brilliant musicianship, will blow you away.
For our latest installment of Stereo Six, singer and guitarist Colin Hendra has joined us to run down some of his most influential albums. Just for today, we’ve broken the rules, with Hendra offering us seven of his very favourites.
1. Wishbone Ash – Argus (1972, Decca/MCA)
“Argus is perhaps THE most influential album when it comes to what I want for Wytch Hazel. There is a rare ‘magic’ that is captured here. It’s not just top-notch songwriting and playing, it’s also one of the finest examples of the genius of Martin Birch. There is not just a ‘folk’ element to the songwriting, I actually think that there were going for a Medieval vibe at least in part, and that’s one of the things that make this album so special. Production-wise, there’s a wonderful combination of vintage guitars, (even then) a Fender Bassman amplifier and bags of plate reverb. The clean sounds and clean twin leads are simply heavenly!”
2. Jethro Tull – Heavy Horses (1978, Chrysalis)
“This really shows off what Martin Barre (on guitar) can do, but not in a virtuoso way (I’m not massively into that style of guitar). His phrasing is really tasteful. I love how he serves the songs and not his ego! Of course, the songs are incredible like pretty much every single Jethro Tull song ever written. ‘Weathercock’ is perhaps the most ‘Medieval’ sounding Tull song ever too… I love it!”
3. Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin I (1969, Atlantic Records)
“There’s a great variety of styles on this album whilst everything still sounding like Zep. I really believe you should have light and shade on a full-length album. It’s particularly evident on tracks like ‘Babe I’m Gonna Leave You’ where there’s wonderful touches like a simultaneous bell toll and horn just on the very last note. The classical guitar is really nice to hear on that track too. You compare it to ‘Good Times Bad Times’ with the fast bass drum parts – they’re worlds apart really!”
4. Pagan Altar – Mythical & Magical (2006, Temple of Mystery Records)
“Back to the medieval vibes again! This album was really influential for me when starting Wytch Hazel. I loved how there was this combination of hard rock/classic heavy metal but with these folky guitar lines. Effortlessly switching from heavy blues soloing into some tasteful folk melodies! Overall a great ‘epic’ vibe to this record.”
5. Iron Maiden – The Number Of The Beast (1982, EMI)
“The album that got me into heavy metal! This was the impetus for me getting better at guitar at a young age simply because I wanted to be able to do guitar solos like Adrian Smith! Another Martin Birch classic production bringing out the best in the band! Whilst it’s a classic in one sense I think It’s also a fairly unique sounding album, I think because of some severe EQing going on in places like the bass drum. It’s just amazing though – the definition of heavy metal, in my opinion!”
6. UFO – Phenomenon (1974, Chrysalis)
“Another great example of an album with great light and shade. ‘Rock Bottom’ is about as classic as it gets and it features probably my favourite guitar solo of all time! Great songwriting throughout, my favourite UFO album by a mile.”
7. Judas Priest – Sad Wings Of Destiny (1976, Gull)
“Priest manages to capture some of that special ‘magic’ that I love about Argus, but in a completely different way. This is riffs 101. Kind of like Sabbath but excellent in its own right. I can’t get enough of this album – I want to listen to it now! Halford is a big influence on me vocally actually, not that I can even come close to his level! I prefer his ‘70s stuff where there is more of a variety of dynamics in his performances.
If I had to sum up all of these albums and the ‘thing’ I’m going for with Wytch Hazel, it would be that ‘magical sound.’ It has to take you away to a different place. I love the experience of being caught up in the moment by otherworldly sounds!”