Tuesday, 19 April 2016

RED WIZARD ~ COSMOSIS


San Diego, CA has thrown up a slew of good underground bands lately The Great Electric Quest and Amigo being just two of them. One band who, through sheer hard work and determination, have also been making a name for themselves in San Diego's underground scene are stoner/hard rock/doom architects Red Wizard. The band, who were formed in 2010, have been steadily raising their profile by constantly gigging in and around the San Diego areas bars, clubs and venues, delivering strong, powerful and passionate live performances that have earned the band a healthy respect from all those lucky enough to have witnessed them. In 2014 the band expanded this loyal fan base to an even wider audience with the release of 2014's self-titled EP on STB Records.
This year the quintet of Travis Baucum - Vocals/Harmonica, Miles Von Ricketson - Lead Guitar, Casey Lamontagne - Guitar, David Wilburn - Bass and Shane Kepler - Drums released their debut album " Cosmosis" in collaboration with both STB and Ripple Music


First track "Tides of War" opens with Wilburn's rolling bass riff trading off against Iommi -esque power chords before the whole thing changes direction as the main riff kicks in. Von Ricketson and  Lamontagne's guitars stutter and slur over a foundation of thunderous percussion and bone shaking bass supplied by Kepler and Wilburn before Baucum  enters into the fray , his deep throaty rasp roaring lyrics of blood, sword and flame. Von Ricketson lays down some seriously tasteful solos and licks over a groove that mixes Grand Magus-like heavy metal with Sabbath-ish traditional bluesy doom. It's a perfect way to open an album and bodes well for what is still to come.
"Tinnitus" is next up and this time Red Wizard move away from the "traditional" doom of the previous track and instead take a trip to the "epic" side of the genre. Built around huge slow crushing riffs and underpinned by a thunderous rhythmic backdrop the song screams out for a big vocal and Baucum provides this in spades. The front man trades his gruff stoner/sludge growl for a more mournful slightly gothic tone, the JD soaked rasp remains but here it is reigned in, refined. Massive sounding and embellished with some nice guitar touches I can see fans of The Gates of Slumber and Solitude Aeturnus really digging this.
"Blinded" explodes next from the speakers its blues drenched doom grooves speckled with crunchy riffs, searing solo's and tight solid rhythms, Baucum lays down a superb vocal as well as providing an absolutely exceptional harmonica solo, blowing his harp like a delta bluesman of old whose just found where he left his mojo.
"Cosmosis" opens in a frenzy of stabbed power chords and crashing bass and drums before Von Ricketson steps up to add in a deliciously simple but beautifully effective lead guitar motif. Baucum reverts to his epic, mournful tone, holding onto notes with a powerful vocal dexterity. At around the four minute mark the song takes a left turn into psych territory, Baucum roars/moans a wordless vocal over heavily effect laden guitars, intricate jazzy percussion and dancing bass lines before sitting it out to allow the rest of the band free reign to go wherever the muse takes them. Led Zeppelin fans may hear similarities to the famous middle section  of" Whole Lotta Love" and like that song this one soons segues back into its main riff. It's a trip!
The final three songs are a concept piece set into three short movements
"Red Wizard Suite Part 1" starts life with a jazzy fusion groove intro before erupting into a stoner doom monster that sees  Baucum spitting and snarling out the vocals as Von Ricketson, Lamontagne and Wilburn lay down the fuzz and Kepler lays down the beat.
"Red Wizard Suite Part 2"is more or less an instrumental bridge between parts 1 and 3 and incorporates both neo-classical and  bluesy guitar heroics, a bass solo and a solid, precise drumming display.
"Red Wizard Suite Part 3" closes the album and anyone familiar with, 70's, Australian, proto-metal legends Buffalo will recognise a similarity to the riff from their song "Shylock" Whether intentional or not there is nevertheless enough originality in and around that riff for the band to claim this as their own, Raucous drumming, deep throaty clean vocals and enough fuzzy guitar and bass to fill a waste truck all combine to take to a close a very good and deeply satisfying album from a band who borrow a little from the past and bring it to the here and now.
Check it out..

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