Band: The Wizards
Album: Full Moon in Scorpio
Label: Fighter Records
Genre: 70s Hard Rock, Occult Rock
Release Date: May 16, 2017
The last few years have seen an onslaught of “Proto-Metal” and “Occult Rock” bands clogging up the scene. I for one have never complained because this is a sub-genre or a mix of sub-genre’s that I really, really like. Sometimes it gets tedious and to be fair, there are tons of bands out there that all sound the same. But to be totally fair, you can say that about any sub-genre of metal. There are lots of imitators, lots of decent bands, and a good number of really good bands, but there are very few innovators. With their second album, Spain’s The Wizards (a name as simple and to the point as their music—and that’s not a criticism) make their move for a wider audience and a step forward towards the cream of the crop. Do they attain their goals?
Opener “Avidya” comes right out the gates, all melodic, propelling drumming, and riffs that push this thing forward with much vigor. This could easily have come out in the mid-70’s, with touches of KISS and lots of Thin Lizzy reverberating throughout. The vocals are good, and stay good throughout the record, and remind me a bit of The Dagger. The guy has a voice that delivers but feels a bit thin, but this is truly in keeping with their 70’s aesthetic, isn’t it? So, no complaints about the singing at all. It fits comfortably in with the music and that’s all you need.
“Calliope (Cosmic Revelations)” starts out with more twin guitars, reaching magnificently into the sky to touch the clouds. Really soaring stuff here. This band fires on all cylinders, rocking hard enough to bang your head and melodic enough to make you grin (if you’re into melodies like this; if you’re into brutal Death Metal you should have realized by now you’re reading the wrong review). More hard rock ensues, this song just grooving along, bashing and slashing with confidence and aplomb.
Probably my favorite song on the record is “Odinist.” Riffs bring us to the table, propulsive drumming makes us sit down, the bass scoots us up to the plate, that little Ace Frehley solo-flourish at the beginning puts the fork in our hands, and the vocals start the feast. Good Lord, this is just about perfect. The song jams it into another gear 2:20 in and away we go.
Follow-up “Stardust” slows things down a bit, giving us some cosmic Dust with a bit more plod mixed with some nice atmospherics. This is a perfect opportunity to catch your breath but isn’t a throwaway track at all. Instead, you’ll find yourself pumping your fist and singing along. Stardust does shine through.
“Leaving the Past Behind” has a nice Sabbath chug to start out and puts a smile on my face every time I hear it. Fans of Pentagram will love this song (hell, you’ll probably love all of the songs, to be honest) and fans of the heavy 70’s will nod approvingly. Solid, good stuff.
Getting closer towards the end of the record, “Halftones to Eternity” offers more of the same, lots of Pentagram here, plenty of rocking riffs, and awesome solo work. And let me just stop here to say that the guitar playing on this record is superb. The solos are flawless and lift every song, telling their own stories as they play out, adding emotion and depth. As far as this track goes, there nothing new here, just heads down rocking, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
“Who Are You, Mr. Gurdjieff?” is a dirty snake of a rocker. The guitar tones are dirty, the singing is dirty, the drums are dirty…this one is the grit under your fingernails after a long day of working on your car, the grease streaks you leave on your lover’s behind as you pull them in to kiss. We get some Danzig vocals on this one and I really love the way this track mixes things up, keeping the sound fresh and the ears interested. After so many songs that all do the same thing, this one opens the door and lets a hot breeze blow through the house. (Also of note, the Gurdjieff of the title was a mystic who sought to teach mankind how to ascend to higher planes of consciousness through a little something he called “The Work,” and this philosophy totally fits in with what The Wizards have been doing lyrically through the whole record).
“When We Were Gods” closes the album, melodic and slow, those Danzig vocals blending with the smoother, thinner vocals from most of the rest of the record. This is dreamy stuff, their bid at an epic number, and it builds and builds, slamming into your face three minutes in, giving some rock heft to finish the whole deal off. I bet this thing smokes live. Five minutes pass and it dips back down into some more psychedelic work again, fully emotional and anthemic in its passion. An excellent end to an excellent piece.
The Wizards bring us rock unfettered, rock that makes you bang your head, makes you tap your toes, and makes you sing along. There are elements of all their heroes in these songs, from KISS to Blue Oyster Cult to Pentagram to Thin Lizzy and Sabbath and on and on, but it never descends into straight theft or copying; the personality of the band shines through and makes this sound their own. This is a record they should be proud of because they really nail it. This album should come with a sticker that says “Beware! Volatile Rock Inside!” They have staked a claim to being part of the cream of the crop when it comes to this style of music. These boys came to rock, and rock they do.
And so will you.
2. Calliope (Cosmic Revelations)
5. Leaving the Past Behind
6. Halftones to Eternity
7. Who Are You, Mr. Gurdjieff?
8. When We Were Gods
Total Playing Time: 45:30