Legend has it that seven odd years ago three witches gathered in the heart of a fog filled forest with the intent to create the next greatest heavy metal band. In their cauldron they melted down vinyl records from the likes of Black Sabbath, Judas Priest and Deep purple, then topped it off with cheap beer and began to chant. The musical creation that rose from the depths with fire and weed smoke in 2009 was known as Black Wizard.
The four piece band plays seriously heavy stoner metal with a less than serious attitude. Recently, Vancouver’s beloved Black Wizard has released, New Waste, an album that manages to explore new territory while paying homage to heavy metal forefathers.
It’s hard not to compare New Waste to the band’s previous brain-melting release, Young Wisdom. Notably, Black Wizard’s new album breaks away from the typical dark and stormy tone of many metal albums. Young Wisdom feels like walking through the towering trees of a fog-laden forest at midnight. New Waste on the other hand is more like sailing across volatile ocean waters on a viking ship. Overall, the album’s tone seems lighter and more energetic. The drums on New Waste gallop rather than thunder. Additionally, some of the distortion has been smoothed out to reveal a cleaner sound. That is not to say, however, that the band skimped on heaviness when producing New Waste. The steely guitar harmonies still rip through the rolling drums and melodic bass like an arrow — a sound I’ve come to expect from Black Wizard.
What I didn’t expect to hear on New Waste was the bluesy, weeping guitar ballad “Laughing and Lost,” a song marinated in 70’s hard rock influence. Frontman Adam Grant’s voice deviates from his usual powerful growl to something more sensual and emotionally rousing. The addition of slower songs like “Laughing and Lost,” the interlude “Waiting For” and classical guitar outro on “Vivian Girls” pierce through the heaviness to create a more complex, layered album overall.
New Waste manages to accomplish what most music fans can only pray for. The album treads on new territory without sacrificing the original sound of the band. And, while the legend of their genesis may be dubious, I am quick to believe that Black Wizard had dark magic on their side when creating New Waste.