Wizards of Kaos
Wizards of Kaos

Dan Moore’s  (sHeavy) new band Wizards of Kaos is one particularly astonishing phenomena that came ’round the bend at the end of ’09. It’s hard to conceive an album like this new self-titled of theirs isn’t some kind of trippy direct export from the 70s; I’m hearing major influence from Sabbath, Led Zeppelin (especially in Jim Barter’s highly enthusiastic drum delivery), topped by some blatant nods to Purple and Boston in terms of cool as fuck proggy jazz flourishes and overtones adding just the right kick in the jaw to this eclectic pot, making it one seriously potent point of reference for those that want a peek into what makes the British vintage rock scene one that’s irrefutably the school of thought and root of the metal genre in itself. This is the type of record that goes for leaps and bounds to keep the attention on-board while rocking it out full steam. Those few fleeting moments of repetition I pinpointed along this road seem to have a conscious mind of their own, breaking into tight, brilliant, and strongly retro jam-outs before I even had time to say ”nay” and go on zoneout mode. This is an attribute that corresponds to what can be heard in the sHeavy sound as well. The hooks abound, and I gotta underline that the mighty sweet dual-guitar melodies all across the record are fucking jaw-droppingly flamboyant. These are the main assets defining the music we have here, but rest assured, there’s enough to say about what’s going on in the minds of those chaps to blacken a full sheet of notes while listening. Bench your ass, this is your cue for some solid theory about the history of metal’s provenance.

”Zeros and Ones” sets the framework with a brief introductory statement about how Wizards of Kaos roll; the typically stoner rock psychedelic groove is on the dial, and the mint melodies in the rhythm sections have a way of invoking an atmosphere that absorbs the mind to a point where one can almost smell the pot smoke and physically feel the rumble of high stacks of used amps. The sound has a way of crashing into the body with thunderous heaviness, and that approach is interlacing with a catchy and accessible but still very organic take on guitar harmonies. That’s one of them characteristics that easily gets me associating these guys to the likes of Sabbath. ”Bombs and Gasoline” is even more gigantic and well-furnished. The fact that it almost reaches the six-minute mark is fully justified. It’s chock-full of ridiculously effective hooks, and it houses a seriously kickass main riff that holds a damn lot of water right out of the gate. That vintage Moore/Perez dual jam out ’round mid-track is, hands down, one of the main highlights of the album. Those two guitars mesh with a chemistry that’s particularly out there, weeping on throughout the well thought-out song patterns in one hypnotic way it’s a daunting task not to simply adore. ”Coyote Eyes” is the main straight-to-radio cut, but in the case of this band, it sure as fuck doesn’t show any sort of sign of slowing down a peg or locking up the wolves for the living heck of being clean cut; the format of the song structure is clearly sitting in a roughly four-minute long moldery that’s compact and audibly crafted out for accessibility’s sake, but the soloing is definitely just as tasty as ever, and variations in the pace of things are also present, keeping things interesting, and showcasing the band’s imprint brilliantly over the modestly short duration of the song’s span.

”Digging Up Our Dead” is a prime example of that Sabbath-on-fast forward analogy coming to mind all through this one listening session. It has this highly fresh-sounding and honestly impressive catchiness, but it also delves into the spontaneous tempo shifts, keeping the approach raw, gritty, and authentic. It ain’t a rip-off of the old days, but rather, a particularly intelligent and knowledgeable tribute to the youngest years of this genre. ”Down From the Skies” takes a drastic U-turn, albeit a pretty damned pleasant one, delivering relentlessly in the prog fusion/touches of jazz influence departments in the ilk of Purple and Boston practices. The leads sure have sentimental value to them, and that tight riff-elaboration in the chorus is one that shines bright. All of those traits combined together make these track a gigantic essential. ”Ear Hole” takes yet another off-the-cuff nosedive into a contrasting mood with one steady upbeat instrumental. The drumming here is punchy and enthused, the ever-so-slightly kaleidoscopic grooves sure add plenty of cool weirdness to the tableau, the basswork is rather entertaining to listen to, and the riffage is crunchy and ballistic as it gets.

Still, it’s nowhere near as great as the ”New World Mistress”. This track dives into an even more retro-sounding guitar sound, at least to these ears, and goes into more of these wicked proggy nuances for good measure. ”Pain & Misery” simply smokes, going for the ever so slightly swingy approach and a nice flair for diversity in its structure, which adds to its effectiveness a ton, and ”Running Red” keeps on bringing the effin’ point straight home effortlessly with meaty riffs, red blooded drumming and heaps more solid hooks. Remarkably colorful basswork is being brought to the forefront with increasingly abstract experimental rhythmic patterns in ”Sixteen”, which seems to harken back straight to the late 60s with the mind frame it easily conjures up from the get-go. ”The Great Shadow” rides the wave of spook with crunchy riffs, interestingly stylish war drums, and I gotta underline that this mid-track buildup to one resolutely heavy peak is yet another important passage on this album you don’t wanna miss. Back to back with such ferocious pwnage, against all odds, last two cuts ”The River” and ”White Face” are slightly laggy and linear. They’re still okay songs, with a steady gallop and an edgy vocal, and good licks, but they audibly don’t reach the level of excellency the rest of the record brings up full fucking blast. Still, considering how the rest of this track list has one heck of a reach in the old schooler’s heart with a massive statement of skill to speak of, those two short and slightly ordinary tunes don’t exactly ruin the overall experience.

You might want to take notice of what Wizards of Kaos are brewing up. They’re sitting on a bomb. This is some blinding and straight-forward worship of the core of heavy metal with a reinvigorated and sincerely revitalizing twist.

 

 

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Noch
May 17th, 2012

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