Formed in Vancouver in 2009, Black Wizard are a heavy metal / stoner band in the traditional vein, mining the rich seams of influence found in the likes of Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Electric Wizard and Judas Priest to deliver some truly ferocious grooves that are are liable to have the leather clad minions of this world priapic with glee. Having shared stages with the likes of Kylesa, Weedeater, Sleep and more, Black Wizard have spent their time wisely honing their chops and the result is ‘New Waste’, a churning, monstrous beast that steadfastly refuses to relinquish its prey once it gets its claws in.
Opening with the crushing ‘revival’, Black Wizard firmly set out their stall from the off. Riffs the size of mountains, epic solos, harmony vocals (all courtesy of Adam Grant and Danny Stokes) backed up by the devil’s own rhythm section (Evan Joel – bass and Eugene Parkomenko – drums) are the order of the day and the result is nothing short of awe-inspiring. The band aren’t reinventing the wheel here, but the synthesis of their influence here is deftly done and the result is a potent hybrid that draws out the many strengths of its forebears but none of the weaknesses. What an opening song! If, by the end, you’re not on your knees, head-banging your way into a neck brace then you should possibly consider the new Michael Bolton record because metal clearly just doesn’t work for you. The spirit of NWOBHM titans Angel Witch hangs heavy over the dusty hard rock of ‘harsh time’ with its harmonised solos giving way to a chrome plated riff that tears form the speakers like a phantom war horse on steroids. Better still the band introduce a crucial sense of dynamic with the psychedelic ‘laughing and lost’, a prog-tinged piece that keeps an eye on the band’s metallic roots but which allows them to indulge in a musical flight of fancy that is all the better for its diversity and heady atmosphere, the latter liable to give a contact high. The vibe is swiftly shattered, however, when the mighty riff of ‘Vivian girls’ emerges from the haze with all of the fury of the four horsemen on a rampage. Adam’s vocals are delivered with just the right balance between grit and melody and there’s a firm hint of vintage Maiden in the galloping riffs and thunderous bass. Concluding, unexpectedly, with some acoustic work lends further credence to the notion that Black Wizard are firm fans of progressive rock, and the song ends on a quite beautiful note.
It’s back to the rock for the Judas Priest-esque ‘eliminator’, a surging beast of pure, gasoline-fuelled metal that leads nicely into Eugene’s crushing drum into to ‘unnecessary evil’, a Sabbath-esque beast that has a strong doom feel to it. A short segue, ‘waiting for’ is a brief, acoustic piece that lays the ground for the frankly blistering ‘the priest’. An apt name for an entirely apt final track, ‘Final ripper’ is a belter, a frantic piece of doom-infused metal complete with heroic solos and a stunning vocal performance. It provides the perfect conclusion to an album that doesn’t put a foot wrong and it leaves the listener very much wanting more.
Oh man I enjoyed this record! Taking the best bits from thirty years of heavy-ass metal, there are hints of Priest, Maiden, Sabbath, Purple and more, all wrapped up in Black Wizard’s own, patchouli-scented haze. The prog aspects of the album help to make the sound more unique and interesting and the delivery is spot on – gritty and brutal and yet with a deft touch that keeps things interesting throughout. If you like your metal to veer on the traditional and yet to offer an eclectic edge to keep things interesting, then you’ve come to the right place. Each and every track is awash with power and passion and this is definitely an album to listen to on vinyl if the chance presents itself. A headbanger’s delight, but intelligent and varied enough to warrant repeated listens, ‘new waste’ kicks so much ass you’ll not sit down for a week. Sweet.