posted on 1/2009 By:
Back during a time when gas was about 10-cents a gallon, I decided to take a road trip across the country. Naturally, I brought a shit-ton of music with me, but I mixed things up a bit by tossing in a book on tape as well. At this point I don't even recall which book it actually was - probably some fantasy series I was currently obsessed with - but what I DO remember is that it didn't survive very long. For whatever reason, the publishers of that book picked a dude with a terribly grating voice that distracted me to the point where I quickly decided to give the highway a much, much closer look at that cassette, if you catch my drift. To a lesser extent, this album reminded me of that book on tape experience. To a much lesser extent, truthfully; I wouldn't even come close to pitching this record out the window, but there sure-as-shit are some bad vocals on this sumbitch. I'd have to say Ol' Rusty Vintage Wizard Master (probably the son of Wicked Elder-as-Ballz Sorcerer-Lord of Enscorcelling) isn't very versed in the craft of singing, and it actually makes a couple of the songs on this debut long-player rather difficult for me to not skip over. Therein lies Infernal Wizardry's Achilles heel, and if the classic doom found on this record wasn't so damned tasty, I'd likely polish up a lot more expletives for this particular review.
Second cut, "Witchwither," stands as probably the most barefaced evidence of the man's off-kilter warbling, which nearly wrecks the wonderful Forest Equilibrium meets Rev. Bizarre classic doom gliiiide of the tune. And "Depressive Holiday" finds Rusty "singing" as if in a trance -- like he's sleep-staring out of a window and just muttering in the most monotone voice possible. It's the sorta thing that makes a reviewer really scratch his head in wonder, and it's the sorta thing that got me to pop the musicianship score down a couple notches (the only place I could think to dock them points for such a thing). But luckily enough, Ol' Rusty doesn't really try to sing on much of the other tunes, and that saves Infernal Wizardry and maintains its place as an album I honestly think doom fans should check out.
The rest of the record, I'm happy to report, smuggles in some really promising classic doom metal. Like I said, it has an elder Cathedral (especially in the drumming) meets Reverend Bizarre (especially in its cheekiness) with just a smidge of Electric Wizard (check the beginning of the self-titled track) feel to things, and nearly every tune is riddled with some truly savory, often weepy guitar leads, along with some very memorable doom riffs that Iommi himself would have been happy to have penned. Also quite surprising is the wonderfully rich production found here; certainly not something I'd expect from a band this young, but Infernal Wizardry boasts a full, clear sound that spotlights all players at nearly any given moment throughout each song. The band is undoubtedly at their best when the music is hazy, the riffs and grooves are greazzzy, and the vocals are dirty. "Horned Lord", "Infernal Wizardry", "Crushing Gothic Slime" (beware the fairly cheesy lyrics) and "The Megalomaniac" definitely stand out as the album's high-points.
There's a bit of buzz about these young Aussie's on the web out there, and I can certainly see why. Throw in a really solid vocalist, or some added focus from Ol' Rusty, and The Wizar'd are suddenly a major player in the classic sounding doom genre. I'd certainly say they're worthy of attention, and I look forward to seeing what the future holds for 'em. Until then, let's just call Infernal Wizardry a record well-suited for doom aficionado's with a stomach for some off-kilter vocals.
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