Saturday, April 18, 2020

From Dark Valleys...

Wizards of Hazards - Blind Leads the Blind (2020)

What we have here is an EP from a band with a curious history. Having allegedly been founded in 1989 under the name Black Wizard, but changing their name to Wizards of Hazards about six years ago, Blind Leads the Blind is the first release listed on this Finnish group's BandCamp page. The Black Sabbath nods are obvious just from the titles, and the music echoes those impressions, riding a traditional heavy metal vibe to solid effect.
Leading off with “Children of the Damned”, the EP gets underway with clear riffs, theatrical vocals, easy-going rhythms, and some fun soloing from the guitar. It hits that '80s heavy metal style dead-on, handling the heavier and higher sides with equal capability. Production is clean, without being so glossy as to make it feel sanitized, and the musicians do a good job balancing focus between their instruments.
Stoning” follows, leaning into a slightly harder groove, and the drummer gets to lay out some punchier action on his end, with a steady-beat emphasis that nicely evokes the march to doom described by the lyrics. The bridge-work is deftly handled here as well, swaying you into another hook just long enough for the main one to return with renewed power. “Boots of Lead” (and if you don't get that reference, they re-emphasize it with the final chords) closes things out by bringing in a more somber mood, though it stays firmly in the traditional doom realm, rather than shifting into funeral doom or death doom. And the upbeat bridge featured in this track ends up balancing the mood out, anyway.
All together, it makes for a nice, well-rounded demonstration of the band's style and interests, and dishes it out quickly enough that you can jump back into it whenever you feel like. Personally, I'm hoping they show a wider emotional range whenever an LP comes about, but from what's on display here, there's a lot to enjoy, and very little to complain about.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Below, Dio-era Black Sabbath, Manowar, Pilgrim, Saint Vitus


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