By Rob Hughes
Black Wizard’s second album teems with heavy rock majesty, with grime-caked riffs from start to finish. The members of Black Wizard all perform with other bands (including Three Wolf Moon, The Hookers, and Anciients) but when they get together, it’s magic. It’s a little hard to pinpoint exactly what makes their sound so special. This album could have come out in 1973 or 1993 as much as now. Swinging rhythms and guitar harmonies point to the heroes of the ’70s, while sidestepping the blatant Sabbath and Pentagram tribute tendencies that many other stoner bands resort to. There’s also a Pacific Northwest snarl present; the same give-no-shits attitude you heard in Soundgarden and Mudhoney before the Sub Pop dam burst. Call it “street doom” maybe. The overall feeling is simply of a band doing what comes naturally, and that’s the best thing. Their shows may be the stuff of local legend, but the fat, no-frills recording, laid down at Bully’s Studios in New Westminster, captures their live sound perfectly, especially the twin leads and harmonies of Adam Grant and Kenneth Paul Cook.
There’s a definite hesher logic at work in the songs. They share Anciients’ fondness for going off on a tangent, but where Anciients stack part after part in their epic creations, Black Wizard rein in the song lengths a bit. Last track “Wicked Wanderer” distils what the whole album is about with its doomy intro, catchy, triumphant chorus, and a dual-lead outro melody that is pure Uli Jon Roth-era Scorpions. It’s sweet stuff from a band that deserves far more than just “local favourite” status. Wise up, everyone—this record’s hotter’n Okanagan asphalt.