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Hedvig Mollestad Trio - All of Them Witches (2013) review

Hedvig Mollestad Trio “All of Them Witches” (Rune Grammofon, 2013)

Quick – name a female-fronted power trio. Female guitar goddesses are few and far between – the short list includes obvious choices like Lita Ford (The Runaways) and the late Kelly Johnson (Girlschool), but there are other accomplished string benders that have been flying under the radar and Norwegian Hedvig Mollestad Thommassen should be at the top of your list of guitar heroines worthy of serious investigation. Her trio (including bassist Ellen Brekken and drummer Ivar Loe Bjørnstad) delivers a barnstorming set of fire-breathing instrumentals that’ll set your pulse a-throbbing and your head a-banging.

               Right from the start, “Sing, Goddess” sets the scene for a tight collection of explosive, riff-driven rockers that’ll pummel your brain into a freakazoid frenzy. “Lake Acid” adds some jazzy licks to the attack and answers emphatically that chicks can play Hendrix. If Sabbathian sludge is more to your liking, then treasure the Iommi-like finger-flexer “The New Judas”. And that’s not all , folks. Mollestad knows her Japanese speed metal improvisers like Keiji Haino, Michio Kurihara, and Kawabata Makoto and extracts much inspiration from their reckless abandon and avant garde meanderings.

The key to instrumental, guitar-based albums is the variety. No one wants to listen to the monotony of the same chords pounded into their head over and over again. Thankfully, Mollestad has a number of tricks up her sleeve, such as “Achilles”, which trades on blues licks that’ll impress Page fans and “Indian River”, which gives her rhythm section a chance to shine in the spotlight with tasteful soloing that doesn’t wear out its welcome or have you reaching for the Skip button. And fans of Nick Saloman will relish the gentle floating psychedelia of ”Shawshank” or “Ghrá Rúnda”, that would not be out of place alongside his early “bedroom” recordings like “The Shrine” or “Song For The Sky”. Overall, a very impressive follow-up to her 2011 debut (Shoot, also on Rune Grammofon). This “Heddy Witches’ brew” (apologies for the multi-level pun!) is highly recommended to fans of metallic energy, free-jazz skronking and psychedelic navel gazing.

Review made by Jeff Penczak/2013
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