Published on June 2nd, 2018 | by Justin G.
WickedWitch: WickedWitch of Boston (20th Century Music)
Before his time fronting Savatage and fronting his own band Circle II Circle, vocalist Zak Stevens was in a band out of Boston called WickedWitch alongside future Savatage bandmate Jeff Plate. WickedWitch was formed when guitarist Matt Leff met Stevens at the Musicians Institute. They recorded several songs over a few years, none of which made it to a proper album release…until now.
The 20th Century Music label has at long last collected the available WickedWitch recordings on one self-titled compilation. It’s titled WickedWitch of Boston, which I have to guess is for some legal reason. If the material here sounds familiar, it’s because the band actually rerecorded these songs about a decade ago for their own Machines of Grace release. Here we get them in their raw form. And I do mean raw. The label obviously put some effort into restoring and remastering these demos, but there are obvious limitations in the source material that affect the overall sound quality.
In terms of musical style, WickedWitch played hard rock that was very much in keeping with the late ‘80s and early ‘90s trends. Not quite glammed-up hair metal, but not heavy metal either. It’s melodic rock along the lines of a keyboard-less House of Lords, Winter Rose and maybe Tora Tora. Nothing amazing, but definitely not bad if you’re an ‘80s rock fan.
Honestly this one is more interesting than good. I’m a big Zak Stevens fan, so hearing this early, pre-Savatage material is a welcome development even if the sound quality is uneven at best. It’s definitely worthwhile if you enjoyed the Machines of Grace album, or are just into finding obscure and unreleased ‘80s rock. And despite sound issues, the collection is really nicely put together, with a band bio from Matt Leff and vintage photos to go with the new cover artwork. It’s on par with what the Eonian label was putting out, which is definitely a compliment.
Summary: These rare recordings finally see the light of day.