By Kyle Harcott
Since first forming in 2009, Vancouver’s Black Wizard have been making a lot of headway in their hometown, tearing up local venues with a smoking live show, putting out a couple of indie releases, and getting onto the kinds of bills that have gotten them a lot of due buzz. Finally this year, they unleash Young Wisdom, their second full-length, and it goes a hell of a long way toward capturing the energy of the young, hungry band they are
“Spacer” rides high, starting out as a sleaze-blues comet entering earth’s atmosphere and, burning up fast upon smoking strings and gang shouts; the Wiz also proving they’re as much at home paying homage to dirt-rock like The Four Horsemen as they are to the big-guitar knockouts of Thin Lizzy. “Young Wisdom” is dog-will-hunt tearass through roughshod B.C. backcountry, fueled on local hydro and whatever kinda case ya can still get for under twenty bucks – that is, ‘til it slips howling and kicking into a midway groove-coma. Shit starts peaking with “Midnight” and its cracking-glacier, slow-boogie, Kenneth Cook’s and Adam Grant’s guitarflails entrancing throughout, in full-on Gorham/Robbo psylock, mind/string-meld, plying the kind of riffs you want to howl along to. “H.U.G.H.” hurls unabashed slabs of Sab-worship down the mountain, twin Iommii-Prometheii violently bringing the fire, ‘til the gang vocals kick your door in, chill Pils in hand, here for the housewrecker.
“Danger Dances” is a brief peeling-back of the curtain, revealing the band’s Wizard side. Spacey, misty-mountain psychedelia, enveloped in rolling green sonic clouds of fog… smoke… vapor everywhere, so thick you can barely see, but you sure do feel like floating, carried along on Kyle Fee’s loping, ship-piloting bassline. Then, like a most-gnar wake-up call, “Somethin’ Sweet” yanks the mattress out from under your green-fever dream, and lays the stoned boogie on way thick; an ass-shaker par excellence. Too soon, though, it’s “Wicked Wanderer”, the perfect closer – summing up the Black Wizard experience. Thick-legged strut riffs, guitarmonies like nobody’s business, Eugene Parkomenko’s big-thunder rolling fills, more green-fueled boogie – all of it over top Adam Grant’s constant heatcat caterwaul over another sleazy-groove chorus.
Young Wisdom is the perfect showcase of a ravenous young band that’s been doing everything right – cutting its teeth on the local live scene, building its audience, generating its buzz, and now the time has come to unleash their magic upon the world. Not for nothing, but they couldn’t have chosen a more fitting title.