Editors’ Notes One gets the feeling that Witchcraft mastermind Magnus Pelander was having a laugh when he decided to call this all-acoustic record Black Metal. But if he’s in on the joke, he certainly won’t admit it. “Just row your boat, man,” he tells Apple Music. “Whatever kind of connotation you get, just go with it.” Though Witchcraft has essentially always been a one-man band where songwriting is concerned, Black Metal marks the first time that Pelander hasn’t recorded an electric doom or psych-rock Witchcraft record with a full band. For his sixth album, he decided to go both solo and unplugged in a friend’s basement near his hometown of Örebro, Sweden. Gone, too, are the vaguely occult and medieval themes of past Witchcraft albums like The Alchemist and their self-titled 2004 debut. Instead, Pelander seems to be on a more melancholy and introspective path—though he’s hesitant to admit that as well. “Once an album is done, I forget about it,” he says. “So when people call and ask me about it, I say, ‘What album?’ It takes such a long time from the actual recording to when it’s released, you know? But I really hope that someone else can get something out of it.” Below, Pelander shares some broad strokes about the songs on Black Metal.

Elegantly Expressed Depression
“This song was recorded in one take down in a gray basement. And it was a very good day, in contrast to the title—a very bright day. I recorded this album with a friend, and it kind of happened by accident. We were trying out some new gear and we fell in love with it. So we just went with it. Actually, the whole album is more or less first takes, so it’s very much a punk rock record.”

A Boy and a Girl
“I guess you could say this is based on a personal experience. Let’s say I maybe met someone who had androgynous features. But you can never be sure about reality, can you? That’s the beauty of the artistic process. We’re just lunatics—all the artists, anyway.”

Sad People
“This is an homage to wonder, I guess you could say. And the question [in the song] is still unanswered: ‘Where do all the sad people go?’ If you’re one of the people who can get something out of it, you’ll see where you will end up yourself one day.”

Grow
“This is probably my favorite track off the album. It says a lot of stuff that I don’t want to talk about. It’s also a first take, and it’s almost eight minutes long. To be quite honest, playing guitar and singing acoustic has never been where I feel most comfortable. Actually, today I’m more secure with it than when I recorded these songs. So…this is harder to say in English than maybe you can imagine, but I’m just very proud of this song. I love it. It’s my absolute favorite track.”

Free Country
“Now that we’re talking about this, I remember that [long-defunct UK doom band] Witchfinder General had a song called ‘Free Country’ as well. I think I actually have the picture disc, but this is not that song. This is also a favorite track on the album—and ‘Sad Dog’ too. So I guess I have three favorites. I didn’t know how to feel about them when I recorded them, but the last time I went through the songs, these became my favorites. They’re so simple. I like complicated, crazy prog-metal too, but sometimes it’s better to keep it simple.”

Sad Dog
“First ‘Sad People’ and now this. I just can’t stop this sadness thing, right? But these songs are not related more than they both have ‘Sad’ in the title. But you never know—sometimes there’s a subconscious relation or association going on. But if we’re going to go down that rabbit hole, all the songs on every album are connected. And I’ve met so many sad dogs that I’ve lost count. I guess I’m not the only one who has encountered a sad dog. And I also believe there is a sad dog that lives inside every person.”

Take Him Away
“This one was written over 20 years ago. That’s the thing with every Witchcraft record—there’s always one or two tracks where the original idea is 20 years old. So it’s fun when people say, ‘Oh, they’re going in a new direction. This is crazy.’ People start crazily analyzing stuff and I go, ‘Hey, man—I wrote those tracks 20 years ago.’ I’m quite the analytical person as well when I listen to music and my favorite artists, but at the end of the day, just f**king enjoy it.”

SONG
Elegantly Expressed Depression
1
5:29
 
A Boy and a Girl
2
1:57
 
Sad People
3
5:42
 
Grow
4
7:51
 
Free Country
5
3:57
 
Sad Dog
6
4:21
 
Take Him Away
7
3:42