Black Wizard’s last album, 2016’s New Waste, just narrowly missed our Hellbound Top 10 Canadian albums… and it’s probably my fault. I think I had it at Number 11 or 12 on my own list—not that there was anything wrong with it, just that there were a lot of great Canadian records released in 2016. Still, I kinda feel like I might owe ‘em one this time around.
In any case, the Vancouver outfit’s fourth album is certainly nothing to sneeze at. Livin’ Oblivion kicks off with “Two of These Nights,” giving you two for the price of one with its galloping dual guitar leads—and man, check out that face-melting solo! “Feast or Famine” is coming off the rails at you like old-school Motorhead, with a couple soaring power-metal leads thrown in for good measure. While the vocals are less gritty than Lemmy, they still deliver plenty of venom. “James Wolfe” slows things down significantly, containing the closest thing to a true doom riff you’ll hear on here (“Cascadia” has a pretty decent one, too)—but even still, the guitar tone contains more shimmer, less fuzz. This is not necessarily a bad thing.
The title track is a solid mid-tempo stomp that sucessfully grafts a couple mid-tempo thrash riffs onto some classic doom. (Think Trouble, Candlemass et al.) In stark contrast, “Portraits” thrashes and burns like vintage Razor or maybe even pimple-faced Metallica. You get the distinct feeling that these guys worship the 80’s more than the “stoner doom” stylings of recent years—and the result is quite refreshing to these ears.