Look, Lizzard Wizzard is about as straightforward a band as you could really expect with a sophomore album called TOTAL WAR POWER BASTARD (henceforth TWPB); that is to say, this is not a group that spends any time mincing words or worrying about any sort of frills or embellishments to their music. So, to start this review off with the sort of platitudinous statement that is typically reserved for the end of one of these articles: if you’re looking for something that will expand your sonic palate, engage your mind, or provide you with a multifaceted listening experience, just don’t even bother with this album. TWPB isn’t experimental, it isn’t avant-garde, it isn’t forward-thinking, and it certainly fucking isn’t progressive: this is droning, aggressive, meathead sludge metal, and if that’s not what you’re here for, then this just is not the record for you.
Tune Low, Play Slow are words that Lizzard Wizzard live and die by, and it’s obvious from the first seconds of the record. Less than 10 seconds into the first track, “Threat Level Demon,” we’re launched into the middle of a colossal groove, rocketed forward by just the guitar—the tone of which, by the way, is filthy and crunchy enough to grind bones to dust—for close to a minute before the rest of the band joins the fray, beginning the song proper. The immediate, obvious influence of Bongripper is omnipresent; Lizzard Wizzard shares their unflinching commitment to driving a riff into the ground and repeating simple melodies until they become hypnotic mantras, albeit in more bite-sized chunks (songs average about six minutes as opposed to the former’s 10-15 minute riff odysseys) and with the addition of vocals. And holy shit, these vocals are great. Sticking mostly with a mid-ranged scream that cuts ferociously through the haze of guitar feedback and cymbals, the vocal patterns are guiding lights through the instrumental murk, providing a sense of context and timing that’s otherwise easy to lose in their mid-tempo meditations on tone.
A special nod must also be given to the level of playfulness with which these Brisbanites engage in their work: lyrical themes on the album include patrilineage on “Dadfather,” Dungeons and Dragons on the aforementioned “Threat Level Demon,” getting stoned and thinking about mythology on the aptly titled “Medusa But She Gets You Stoned Instead Of Turning You To Stone Instead Of Snakes She Has Vaporizers On Her Head… Drugs,” and pizza on, well, “Pizza.” For a scene where albums tend to take themselves way too seriously, it’s always wonderful to get a sense of playfulness, even as Lizzard Wizzard is essentially beating your eardrums into paste with their music.
Whether or not one personally finds an interest in Lizzard Wizzard’s singularly heavy style of droning stoner sludge metal, it’s obvious that they’ve accomplished exactly what they’ve set out to do. Indeed, the mere fact that such a monophonic album can keep the audience’s attention for just shy of an hour is a testament to just how good they are at meeting the demands of their niche sound. Lizzard Wizzard certainly aren’t going to bring any newcomers into their genre’s fold, but for those already committed to stoner sludge, TOTAL WAR POWER BASTARD is a juggernaut of an album that shouldn’t be missed.
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Lizzard Wizzard released TOTAL WAR POWER BASTARD on the first day of this year. You can grab it from their bandcamp.