It must be something else to hold the esteem of having made the rarest, most impossible to find, most infamous, most expensive album ever made and that esteem would go to the surviving members of the group Witchwind Falls- a British/Dutch 7 piece of whom now 5 members are still alive to tell about it. Thankfully one of them is the band's creator and would ultimately be their demolisher when he opted for more musically viable territory in the also rarest and most expensive Witching Hour the one and only Pieter Pryce. Now Pieter and I met quite a long time ago, 21 Decembers ago now in fact, and he explained the whole story to me. I had a chance to meet the late Devon Coxley, but on advice of Pieter and the various nefarious stories I heard about him (he apparently was one scary dude who was also an even worse drug casualty than Syd Barrett!) I'm glad I didn't. His life ended in 1995 from a long battle with MS AND drug abuse which is very sad. The other one no longer with us was only a part time member the sax/flute player Erik Burgenheim who died very mysteriously in 1984 apparently in some occult related disaster or more likely from a stupid suicide, an asinine suicide when he was not accepted as a member of the metal band Cloven Hoof. According to Cloven Hoof's original guitarist whose name I can't remember at the time "Witchwind Falls were something to be avoided. It had been done once and it never should have been done that way. I was scared shitless when I heard the album and we were putting our first together when somebody handed me a copy and said to me never to let it go that far. Of course, they were the most lividly Satanic band of them all, but too Satanic even and way too scary. I wouldn't listen to that again for the world!"
Well, the truth is of course more complicated than that. While the Satanic element is there in a big way BLAK MAJICK RITUAL by Witchwind Falls is more something to make for a perfect anti drug commercial. Stemming from the fallout of the 60s flower power era into doom ladened early 70s (the album is from 1970) depression Pieter Pryce (real name Pieter Schonzhorf-Pryce and of Swedish/English descent now that's strange!) had taken that trip you always pray that you'll never take if you do acid. It was the worst trip ever- landing him with serious mental health symptoms and a spell in primal therapy which is what led to the album. He had been doing every drug conceivable and mixing them into cocktails- never a wise decision. He told me that the trip which led to BLAK MAJICK RITUAL wasn't just acid- it was acid, mescaline, cocaine, speed, and gin mixed with melted hash! Not something to joke about he was feeling bad enough when he turned on the TV and saw a news broadcast about the Vietnam War which sent him straight into the gates of Hell. He was found screaming naked running down the street after smashing a window and cutting himself in the process and then he collapsed. He spent the night recovering under heavy surveillance with doctors not sure whether they could save his life or not. He was given a choice- to commit himself to an institution or to go into primal therapy and he wisely chose the latter. I've been in the mental asylum 3 times myself and will never go back. It does all harm and no good and when I'm issued with a warning or threat about it I make sure it won't happen again.
Back to Witchwind Falls. Pryce went into primal therapy and then formed the band to exorcise his terrifying visions of the horrors of war, references to all kinds of death including a modern crucifixion, Satanic sacrifices, and the perilous netherworld that drugs can send one into. The band comprised Pryce as the lead vocalist and he also played a few flute and guitar parts as he told me, guitarist Clive Rossey-MacManus, bass player Dicken MacManus (of no relation), keyboard player Holt "Evan Anders" Vanderhavel, electronics/baritone sax/mellotron/Moog/and treated voice demon Devon Coxley, and drummer Jan Gollix the strange Dutch/English/Swedish group went into the studio with Pryce's concept and recorded the terrifying album. Bust ups between Pieter and Devon started right away. The two had different ideas about their occult beliefs and really couldn't get along on anything at all. However, when the two of them both clicked on an Anti War message and an album which is held today as "Darker Than Dark More Deathly Than Doom" there was no stopping them. A double album and a heavy, heavy, dark, frightening concept at that Evan Anders was Pryce's soul mate and together with him wrote some numbers that are actually fine slices of freakbeat echoes into late pop psych. However, with the majority of tracks on the album so horrific I found myself pulling the needle on them or else listening to them in utter disbelief BLAK MAJICK RITUAL serves as a real truth about the darkest, most horrible conditions that the human soul can go into. The band couldn't find a deal for it unless their mammoth Side 3 opus "The Battle Of Eagle Mountain/Death On Eagle Mountain/Will One Man Survive?/Crucified Soldier's Lifeblood" was cut entirely out and when released in probably the scariest cover ever designed Pryce freaked again. He couldn't listen to his own vision and he couldn't live with what Coxley had turned it into. He found the pressing plant for their own World's End label where they were making the already tiny run of copies and demolished most of them before even test pressing stage. This left only an unbelievably tiny 75 copies in existence. Now, with an album that rare I don't think I need to tell you the price it goes for. Let's just say that even when 40 more copies were found the price has not gone below 5,000 pounds or 7,000 Euros and the last time one surfaced it was shortly after I'd met Pieter Pryce 20 years ago.
So you're probably going to ask if there's any chance for a reissue, if you should hear the album, if it should be reissued, and if it ever will be reissued. The answer to all questions is NO. Let me first tell you what this fucker looks like: The front is black with a horrifying image of a shriveled, melting, lifeless yet screaming face covered in cuts, wrinkles, and blood in a black shroud and the back is another shriveled image like a diseased tiny baby thrown into a cauldron and melting into the cauldron with an evil, scary message. The inner gatefold depicts a church on fire with the flames covering the side that is the picture and not the liner notes with the band in black cloaks and inverted crosses sitting around in a circle with skulls in front of them. Sound like Black Sabbath gone mad? Well, it's ten times worse and even scarier. Pryce is adamant that this won't ever be repressed. I don't blame him, but if you do hear the album ever you'll know that the sick cover of Devon Coxley's design and Pryce's songs are two very different things. Basically this is an Anti War album. The songs are also not surprisingly anti drug and anti suicide. It's coming from a good heart when Pieter Pryce writes with Evan Anders and some of the playing is downright brilliant. There are some fuzz guitar driven underground proto Metal tracks that will have you drooling over them and even at the time once the band had become Witching Hour they were so good that Black Sabbath called Witching Hour not only an improvement, but Ozzy and Tony Iommi said they were one of the best bands in the world. If you're going to go on a wild goose chase and try to hunt down a ludicrously expensive album that will leave you completely in the hole financially and physically I'd go for both Witching Hour records which incidentally may not be any easier to track down, but are at least $1,000 and not even 1,000 pounds. I'd never pay that kind of money for anything and certainly the third side of Witchwind Falls is enough to damn it to Hell (no pun intended), but the good stuff on the record it's a shame can't be salvaged. For God knows (I actually am a pagan not believing in your typical God) what reason Tenth Planet gave the idea of a compilation LP a thumbs down and I wish they hadn't. The good tracks are mostly on Side Two while if you're a heavy progressive fan Side 4 will be your pick. The problem is, you'll never hear it. Every label that this has been offered to have given the thumbs down to it. It's a form of censorship that's really stupid, but I'm really clever. THIS ALBUM AND THIS BAND HAVE ONE THING REALLY GOING AGAINST THEM. They don't exist.
That's right. The whole thing was just leg pulling. I was having a run at you. A little bit of Pre Halloween spice up your Satanic Cup and then spill it on you. If you'll ask why I spent so much time on it Witchwind Falls and Witching Hour came to me in a life-changing dream in December 1991 that recurred several times in 1992. So there is a reason for my blog. I've always wondered just what could be out there and once I got into rare albums I'm sure I ain't the only one who'd like to personally discover and meet the man or woman behind the rarest album ever made. Happy Day of The Dead and Walpurgis Nacht To You Meine Freunds! My mates! So I took you on a little trip. Hope the ride gave you a few thrilling ideas yourselves.