Thursday, 27 June 2013

Black Wizard - Young Wisdom (album review)

Cover artwork by Dena Lazarenko.
Dopey eyed and numbly grinning stage hands buzz behind the curtain, surgical in their preparations, lab coats and clip boards held out ticking checklists.  They do a strange dance, weaving this way and that, all follow a confusing yet distinct pattern of motion leaving nothing to chance, dizzying in its bumper-car-like efficiency.  The stage is nearly set, except ... something's missing.  "It needs more smoke", they all seem to agree.  So the exhausted milk cow that is the Black Wizard's array of smoke machines are flicked back on, wheezing and groaning as they cough out thin clouds of manufactured smoke.  If the machines had eyes they would have bags under them and look up at the men who control them with betrayal etched across their metallic faces.

The curtains flash open and a cloud of vapor stumbles forth like a confused and poisoned mob.  Somewhere behind the opaque density are a band of dopey eyed, numbly grinning wizards, hidden in this occult fashion from the eyes of the uninitiated.  If one could pierce the vaporous veil, they would see these wizards playing decidedly energetic rock n roll, even though, if one could actually see the band through the haze, the performances don't come across as highly energetic but appears as a group of guys comfortable in their own skin.  Wizards can do it in their sleep.

Big, bad Iommian riffs cloaked in black, speak deadly incantations of unadulterated metal, drums whip up thunderclaps, providing an air of storm-drenched theatricality.  Sing-along choruses provide group a activity for party-going crazies and there is always smoke available in vast quantities.  This is good times music to waste one's youth to.

Psychedelic clouds grace the stroke of "Midnight", the witching hour arrives to showcase a darker side of the band with the threat of being accosted by green skinned, wide eyed and grinning witches crouching just behind every fence on the way home.  One thing 'Young Wisdom' has plenty of is excellent leads and "Midnight" is another strong example of guitarists Grant and Cook's ability to weave a perfect spell without having to get too busy.  Their fretwork pyrotechnics appear in the form of smoke-filled atmospheres and gibbous textures rather than a series of choreographed explosions. "Something Sweet" appeals to the sweaty, long-haired scumbag in all of us combining blistering leads with doomed darkness.  The band doesn't need to ram their technical excellence down listeners' throats, they just give a song what it needs, short bursts of hyperactivity included.  The excellence here is in the riffs and the tightness of the songwriting.

The album title 'Young Wisdom' sums it all up, but it also betrays this band of miscreants for what they really are.  For all the surface beer bonging and bowl smoking there's a sensitivity on this album towards not overdoing anything and maintaining delicately balanced atmospheres.  Sure, you could try to chalk up the 'not overdoing anything' philosophy to burnt out pot-headed laziness, but that's not what's going on here.  The wizard is a thinking man with a master's ability and this band does their level best to honor the tradition. Some of this record's greatest accomplishments are what Black Wizard didn't do.  They didn't go overboard when they could have, they didn't sacrifice feel to showcase exuberant individual ability.  Oh, there's dynamism and shreddery afoot, but they keep things on an even keel throughout the record.  Basically, 'Young Wisdom' earns the dudes a master's degree in rip-roarin'!

Image courtesy of The Vancouver Sun.
When I saw them open up for Corrosion of Conformity, the dudes I went with didn't have much experience with any of the bands on the bill.  They were convinced that Black Wizard was the best band of the four that played that night and had stolen the show, much to my frustration as a Corrosion of Conformity fan who was trying to introduce them to that band.  There's just no squirming out of it when the Wiz's got you under their spell.  In the end 'Young Wisdom' has validated their opinion.  It comes out officially tomorrow (Friday June 28) and is available for streaming and CD pre-order RIGHT NOW on bandcamp (click the links on the player below to get there).  And if you're in town in and around Vancouver tomorrow night, go to the record release party at the Rickshaw Theater at 8pm.  You will be enveloped by tentacles of smoke.

Highlights include: "H.U.G.H." and "Wicked Wanderer"

Rating: 4.5/5

Total Run Time: 35:45

Adam Grant - Guitars, vocals
Kenneth Paul Cook - Guitars
Evan Joel - Bass
Eugene Parkomenko - Drums

From: New Westminster, BC

Genre: Stoner, Hard Rock, Metal

Reminds me of: Anciients, Black Mountain, Crag Dweller

Release Date: June 28, 2013

Better Review:
Heavy Planet
Ride With The Devil

Black Wizard on facebook


  1. Great review man! This is one of my favorites and a great album for summer. Thanks for the plug!
    -Zac "Heavy Planet"

    1. No problem and thanks for the thumbs up!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...