Monday, October 1, 2012
Review Revisited - Wizard Smoke: the Tickler
Disclaimer - this review was edited as per request of the band who felt it held an intensely personal angle taken towards their members, motivations and supporters. They also felt it to be insulting and nothing to do with the musical material in question" So to prevent delicate feelings from being further hurt,let it go on record that unless you are one of my all time favorite bands ever, I have no feelings one way or the other about you. Thoughts on your music... sure, But I have much more important things to occupy my mental space with after the 20 to 45 minutes I gave to review your album. Ok sometimes even less, but before you let your corpse paint run it means that I already was listening to it a lot in the car or at the gym, so have a solid notion of what I like about it. Other than that you are either enriching my iPod or taking up space on it.
the review was originally published October 1st , so it tool the band a year to contact me directly, after they had spent time crying about it on various forums. So if you are a band aching about a review, feel free to contact me and depending on my mood and level of caffenation, I may or may not tell you to fuck off and that this is my blog so I'll write whatever I want, since Freedom of speech makes those allowances. However Dan of Wizard Smoke was polite and courteous , so I was more willing to work with him on this. Though I told him this and it goes for other bands. If your singer seeks to represent a brand he represents (your band is a brand you are selling) by portraying himself as a jack as in public media, its a hard image to shake when listening to the music. Just like it was hard to take solo Ozzy seriously when he was acting like a fool on reality t.v. I had more emotional investment at that time than I do with your band, which is none. I'm likely apathetic about every thing else about your music. The golden rule when allowing your band to be represented with a level of frivolity or in any manner is to grow thicker skin. Now that we have those ground rules out of the way here's the review, which since it was originally written the band has since gone on hiatus and played what was announced to be their last show.
This two song release by Atlanta's Wizard Smoke is roughly clocks in at twenty mins. They were the last of the sludge band wagon, as sound of slow southern steel grinds to a halt with death metal and thrash returning to prominence like in the late 90s.
The first song "Christian cross" is typical for the bands sound , though when I heard the song "weakling" I almost got a dsbm feel from the agonized nature of the vocals ,t here they are pretty run of the mill and indecipherable. Though on this track the guitars are the focal point and fortunately the most interesting element. By the eight minute mark the song implodes into generic sludge. I like the accented hits which ring out, because even if these guys aren't fans it's a reminder of what an influence Swans have had on this genre. After a revealing last interview, its fair to assume when the joke is up they are nominal metal heads at best, one of the guitarists owns a Preist album, other wise the rest of the band falls in line with whatever soundtrack the East Atlanta indie rock dictates, which when left to social trends migrates to shows the hipster sect as deemed the place to party. While in the local metal community the band got flack for the non-metal elements, those were actually the bands stronger qualities.
The synths don't add much, the keyboardist holds a chord here and their never utilizing single note melodies, so no Deep Purple here. The most talented member sounds to be the bassist whose embelishments add offer variance and leave room for The guitars more melodic single note ascending patterns that are the more powerful moments r. I'm not sure how they are earning the psychedelic label as there is nothing really Trippy or etheric going on its pretty a typical sludge, with a few winks to noisy post punk.
Old snake... Feels more like Clutch or late eighties Corrosion of Conformity, the singer makes an attempt to sing in a throw back blues style and his throaty bellow, sounds like a mimicry of Clutch lacking in any personality of its own. They do get credit for not defaulting into a total southern rock thing. At a minute and 15 seconds into it when the guitar wanders out from under him, you see how little thought was given to melody here. On the second verse when the vocals are doubled in a wise production choice, though the lack of harmony sounds like a drunken bar sing along.
I do like the transitional break down at the seven minute mark, but cool riffs do not automatically equate solid songwriting is the mantra here . The solos are very simple and text book blues rock but add to this song, even if these guys are in now way shape or form shredders of any caliber .
I'd say if you are a fan of this sort of thing it's worth a listen , it didn't have any staying power in my iPod , t theres not much of this kind of thing in my collection aside from Naam, who employs a wider scope of melody. e. So the collection of little cool parts lands them a 4 in my book, call it a 5 if you aren't in Atlanta and had the displeasure of being exposed to some of the distracting exposure in the local media the singer has received.
Ithe whole sludge thing had its fifteen minutes called last year and bands like Royal Thunder who come from a similar demographic moved on to the retro vest metal crowd. Halcrow doesn't have the pipes to carry them into a more melodic direction as demonstrated here, But buy them a Pbr for giving it the good ole collage kid try.