Elvira Madigan Witches — Salem 1692 vs. 2001

Bearing a painting of a scantily clad, chain-decorated woman on its cover, Elvira Madigan’s Witches — Salem 1692 vs. 2001 could be mistaken for a goth-themed power metal record. It’s not. Not surprisingly for a one-man project (the band is the brainchild of Swede Marcus H. Madigan), Witches relies heavily on keyboards, especially synth strings, for atmosphere and texture. That provides the album with a full, thick sound and many instrumental passages have an intriguing progressive flair. Unfortunately it’s a pleasure frequently interrupted by side trips into Cradle of Filth emulations that destroy the band’s credibility and though lead guitars come through fairly well in the mix, the rhythm section gets lost in numerous layers of keyboard. Witches is much better when experimentation and individuality kick in, but Madigan could benefit from the creative input of others. (Black Lodge)