Old Man Wizard – Blame It All On Sorcery

Rating: 4/5
Distributor/label URL: https://www.facebook.com/Old.Man.Wizard/
Released: 2018
Buy Album [URL]: http://oldmanwizard.com/album/blame-it-all-on-sorcery
Band Website: https://www.facebook.com/Old.Man.Wizard/

Band line-up:

Francis Roberts – Guitar, Vocals
Andre Beller – Bass Guitar, Backing Vocals
Kris Calabio – Drums, Backing Vocals

Tracklisting:

1. Beginnings and Happenstance
2. Sorcerer
3. The Blind Prince
4. Never Leave
5. Cosmo
6. Somehow
7. Innocent Hands
8. The Last Ride of the Ancients
9. The Vision
10. The Long-Nosed-Wiseman

Review:

Old Man Wizard are a progressive, hard rock and metal band from California. Their new release ‘Blame It All On Sorcery’ will be released on May 11th 2018. Guitarist and vocalist Francis Roberts has commented the ’album is the result of a years-long winding (and fairly bumpy) road.’ He further comments he and his group ’actually almost recorded Blame It All On Sorcery at some point in 2014 or 2015, but Kris developed pretty bad tendonitis and (the band) had to replace him on drums for a couple of shows.’ He continues ‘We all wanted him on the album so we decided to take a break until he was able to play again’.

It’s no surprise this album took so long to produce. The harmony is unusually complex for most genres of rock. Its jazzy, relentless chromatic nature is rather striking, whilst simultaneously quite heavy much of the time. It really shows the metal sceptics that a great deal of creativity can be demonstrated with distorted guitars, bass and vocals. You don’t need keyboards or similar instruments to provide pleasing tones. Furthermore, the frustration of the recording experience shows in the lack of happy vibes. Eeriness, tension and sadness are frequently depicted.

It’s clear from their hiatus that the band members care about each other, and this is perhaps also shown in their music. Whilst they are powerful, the guitars do have a relatively warm tone to them rather than them being super distorted. The drums are rarely too manic and the singing is far from threatening. In fact the latter is sometimes even a tiny little bit on the angelic side. Relatively speaking. In a way. This music is clearly somewhat of a paradox with all its contrasting traits, but it is a fascinating listen.

Unfortunately, whilst they are rather colourful and distinctive, the vocal melodies aren’t quite as adventurous as the chords. They are fairly decent, but are a little on the safe side, with few large intervallic leaps. However, the variety of sounds, tempos, moods and the way everything progresses in the album at least partly makes up for that deficiency.

In conclusion, this is very good music of its style. It is more focused on songwriting than instrumental flashiness, so don’t expect anything close to crazy sweep picking, epic drum solos using strange polyrhythms or anything more skilled than your typical metal group. However, if that doesn’t matter to you, there is little in ‘BIAOS’ that will put you off this stuff, especially if you have a more sophisticated taste. And don’t worry, just because these guys are clever, don’t think they neglect simplified though fun power chords. Check the album out!

Review by Simon Wiedemann
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