After kicking around song ideas for a few years on his own San Diego, California musician Francis Roberts formed hard rock/heavy psych band Old Man Wizard as a power trio intent on creating music that expressed their shared love of progressive rock and heavy metal. Most often compared to Ghost, as ‘Infestissumam’ had dropped it’s equally soft-edged sound earlier in 2013, their debut album ‘Unfavorable’ was an eclectic mix of psychedelic rock and folkish proto-metal with some punkish edges here and there. From there the project stalled for a host of great reasons, from tendonitis to other more demanding projects (acoustic pirate metal, for example) and by delaying the process it seems Old Man Wizard‘s songwriting has been given proper incubation time needed to advance their sound.
Believe it or don’t, even first and second tier legacy rock and metal acts that’ve been around for 20-30 years struggle to fund recordings and tours in 2018. One can only imagine the difficulty of realizing greater musical ambitions in a market flooded daily with new products aimed at a demographic that might have never paid for music a day in their life. Well known artists, video game companies, and musicians have had varied success with Kickstarter campaigns and Old Man Wizard were likely successful for their reasonable goals, charismatic campaign, great fans, and it helped that their debut album served as a solid proof of concept/ability. It is highly encouraging to see more and more music related Kickstarter campaigns yield products thanks to crowdfunding. I personally didn’t back this project, didn’t know about it, but I have funded several video game productions and journalists with crowd-funding.
‘Blame it all on Sorcery’ doesn’t sound like it was conceived for roughly three thousand bucks, in fact it sounds much better than it should. For a crowd-funded DIY project from a newer band the experience ends up a slow-growing rock record that probably should have come out around 2015-ish. The epic, proto-metallic hard rock of Ghost is the easiest comparison to make with Old Man Wizard‘s style and that similarity is most evident on the first two thirds of ‘Blame it all On Sorcery’. I’d also point out nods to ‘Ocean’-era Eloy towards the conclusion of the album and a bit of Uriah Heep‘s more chilled out stuff here and there. Much of the album has a flatly stoned delivery where much of the dynamics come from the drumming and layered vocals, again you’re not going to escape the entirety of this album without thinking of the second and third Ghost albums.
The best moments for my taste are the slightly heavier or more memorable tracks. The second half of the album is where most of the booty is stashed, though, starting with “Innocent Hands” which is perhaps the heaviest guitar work on the album. Two of my favorites are the more acoustically driven tracks “The Vision” and “Somehow” as I think their sound excels in that jangly, folkish arena more than anywhere else. I suppose “Sorcerer” is the ‘single’ here as the most immediately memorable song of the bunch and I’d direct folks to that track as well as “Cosmo” if you’re looking to just get straight to the stuff that’ll stick. I don’t really mind that it sounds a lot like ‘Infestissumam’, Ghost lost thier fire after that albums anyhow. ‘Blame it all on Sorcery’ is a good effort all in all, my only complaint being that the whole thing has an entirely chill vibe that flattens the experience some. Well worth a listen.
|Released||May 11, 2018|
|BUY/LISTEN on Old Man Wizard’s Website!||Follow Old Man Wizard on Facebook|
Shrouded by eerie light. 3.5/5.0
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