Stoner metal, contrary to popular belief, is not all fun, games, and weed. The journey to the riff-filled land is fraught with peril and setbacks, all of which can bring lesser bands to ruin. Although it may look simple from far away, anybody who has spent any time writing any sort of slow metal can attest to the fact that there is far more nuance than one would expect under the music’s surface. From finding a good tone, to developing a riff that’s actually good enough to be compelling for such a long period of time, to creating song arrangements that make sense and manage to feel both full enough and empty enough at the same time, there’s an extreme attention to detail that goes largely unseen.
BLACK WIZARD is a perfect band to illustrate this level of detail on their newest outing, an album that features good writing backed by a loving eye carefully scouring every corner of the release to make sure that nothing goes unnoticed, and as a result, this is easily one of the most enjoyable records to listen to of the year so far, in terms of the ease in listening and overall mood and tone of the album.
From the very beginning, New Waste wraps you in a thick blanket of distorted grooviness, all galloping bass lines and guitar that seems to switch from shred to riff and back on the drop of hat, warm and fuzzy from the get-go and never quite letting up. The guitar tone is stellar on this release: combining just the right amount of distortion and fuzz makes for an addictive combination that sits front and center, making sure you pay attention to the heavy grooves it slings around like they’re nothing at all. The drums pound and crash with an intense fury, and as the bass is not only audible but prominent in the mix, lending its weight to the rhythms and bolstering them immensely, every song carries a great sense of richness and warmth. Of course, it’s not pedal to the metal all the time, and when the band slows down and takes on a more somber, mid-paced tone, as in “Laughing And Lost”, they manage to infuse a real sense of passion and emotion into their tracks, aided by background organ playing that comes in at key moments to perfectly complement the rest of the band.
Although the writing certainly isn’t bad, the real star of New Waste is definitely the production, which really does bring a whole new dimension to the music here. Far too often is quality studio-work neglected by metal bands on the grounds that it’s metal and should therefore sound more raw and organic; this is an enormous mistake, and BLACK WIZARD are here to show you exactly why an extreme attention to aural detail will take a good record and make it a great one, all without sacrificing the freshness and energetically emotive nature metal is known for.
The music may not have appeal outside of the average crowd that stoner rock/metal caters to, but New Waste is absolutely worth a listen for anybody interested in production quality and how it can impact one’s enjoyment of an album. Easily listenable and full of fun, energetic riffage, New Waste is an easily digestible treat for any fan of slow metal.