Wooden Stake/Blizaro
Wooden Stake/Blizaro Split

This was a bit of a rocky road initially for me. By that I mean “getting into” the music of this split release from Wooden Stake and Blizaro. Given my often mood-driven response to CDs, it is not surprising that the first time or two this one wasn’t clicking. And that’s exactly why one or two spins on a day during which one’s personal stars may be out of alignment is no way to review music. Then again doom is a style of music that tends to appeal to a narrow group of listeners anyway, although there are always exceptions for those with a need for variety, myself included. When you toss in the horror movie slants (both sound and lyrics) of Wooden Stake and the outright psychosis of much of Blizaro’s brand of doom, the odds of crossover appeal are somewhere in the vicinity of zero. And that’s a damn shame for those not willing to add a little eclectic doom nutrition to their diet because Wooden Stake and Blizaro offer listeners doom creativity, bang for the buck, cult horror movie fun, and in the case of Blizaro more than a pinch of dementedness.

First up is Wooden Stake’s contribution of “Death Reads the Black Tarot” and “The Legend of Black Castle.” Featuring Scaremaker‘s Vanessa Nocera  (bass, vocals, lyrics) and Wayne “The Elektrokutioner” Sarantopolous (drums, guitar, composition), Wooden Stake plays a varied, somewhat unique style of doom that doesn’t sacrifice songwriting for vibe. The multifaceted Nocera leans most heavily on the doomstress cleans,” yet never gets stuck in pattern rut, while offering accents and shifts to everything from the apparitional to the harsh and psychotic to the blood curdling. Those latter elements are part and parcel to the hellish descent that characterizes that last section of “Death Reads the Black Tarot,” not the least of which includes some eerie, clanging bass lines. Nocera even moves into a section of chanting during “The Legend of the Black Castle.” Those shape-shifting proclivities are of course one reason why immediate gratification from Wooden Stake awaits only those with exclusively unconventional tastes.

There is more to Wooden Stake than the vocals, as both tracks succeed at creating tempos and transition that always keep the journey an interesting one. Sarantopoulos’ style of riff writing is quite clever, as he uses traditional doom as a foundation and then unveils a bit of quirk, a lot of movement, and a few well placed jagged edges. The main riff to “Death Reads the Black Tarot” has got its own kind of pointy groove to it, while the slow galloping parts are delectably meaty, bolstered by the vintage/organic production values. Sarantopolous works in a little melody in parts as well, though it is often colored with cragginess and a degree of dread. He jabs the air with string-bent leads parts in between sections of quicker tempo, almost jaunty spook-grooves and trad-doom plodding during “The Legend of Blood Castle.” And we’ve not even dove into the captivating lyrical content, but lines “Villages plagued by vampirific crimes” and “you can’t escape death’s call” from the first and second cuts, respectively, should give an inkling of what to expect.

Summing up the three Blizaro tracks is even more of a daunting task. Blizaro is largely the work of one man, John Gallo (Orodruin) who is credited with composition, guitar, bass, organ, moog, and vocals. Michael Puleo is responsible for the drum samples. The approach taken is in the vicinity of “everything but the kitchen sink.” Oh it is horror doom alright; it just ain’t run of the mill. Right off the bat “Night Fumes” amazes with shifts from up-tempo ‘n gnarly to psychedelic to doom plod and back to up-tempo pound, all injected with bits of melody and finished off with four minutes of church organ creepiness. It gets even creepier with more of that fabulous organ on 11-minute “Edgar’s Blood” and a plod of monstrous proportions, this time with singing of a more traditional doom sort, nice soloing, and righteous groove. Is it possible to get even spookier? Nine-minute Final Escape/Zombie Feast” answers in the affirmative, in this case enshrouded in moog/organ bubbling, apparitional fright, and the echoes of true horror. The riffs and bass gurgles throughout Blizaro’s half are delicious.

An album for certain moods perhaps, but the split could be destined for frequent spins even for the casual doom metal fan. The ride is worth taking and led to my order of Blizaro full-length City of the Living Nightmare from Razorback Records. Plans to purchase Wooden Stake 7” Black Caped Carnivore on Sorcerer’s Pledge Records (and available through Razorback) are also in the works. I’m glad I took the plunge

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Scott Alisoglu
March 18th, 2011


  1. Commented by: brutalicon

    I tried to get into this, to me it sounds like a 2nd rate take on doom. I didn’t dig the vocals at all. Gave it a few spins, and I enjoy doom/death metal, but this was not for me.

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