Artist: Wizards of Hazards
Label: Inverse Records
Release Date: February 17th, 2023
Finland’s Wizards of Hazards return with an album that somehow feels familiar yet unlike anything you’ve heard. It’s simultaneously old school and yet innovative and fresh. Most importantly though it’s both powerful in its delivery and memorable in its underlying groove and song writing.
The best way I can describe Supernatural is if Dave Brockie had chosen to go down a different path and make traditional doom/heavy metal rather than founding GWAR. If you’re wondering if that combo works, I’m happy to tell you that it most definitely does. There’s a level of dramatic, theatrical and almost at times operatic flare to that vocals that when coupled with their raw power and gruff edge make them intoxicate. There’s a solid balance struck between gruffer, more aggressive vocals and soaring clean powerful belting, as well as plenty of vocals that sit between the two. I promise you that you will be coming back for more after your first listen.
Instrumentally the album is very much a blend of traditional doom and old school heavy metal. You’ll find all of the catchy, memorable riffs, gallops and hooks that you could possibly want. You’ll find some classic rock influenced moments sprinkled into the mix too. Although as much as the guitar work drives the instrumentals the drums are very close behind in importance. They bring a huge amount of energy to the mix, and I personally love the tone that they’ve employed, it has that old school feel to it. The two elements work in perfect unison throughout the album, operating as if they were a single entity. There’s an excellent level of groove worked into the music but not to an extent that it hampers the moody doom based atmosphere of the album. It does however give the album an added level of catchiness and memorability. For me though I truly appreciate the band’s ability to present clear production and yet maintain a 70-80s sort of essence.
As far as favourite tracks go I’m going to have to go with the opener GRAPES OF WRATH, the band really picked this one well, it’s a perfect way to kick off the release. It has a brooding, menacing tone to it and features could easily be described as the most dramatic and powerful vocals on the album. Those moments where Ville belts out “grapes of WRAAAAAAAAAATH” are so goddamn awesome that I kept coming back to the track to hear them. The segment leading from 3:40 is also badass, as the song picks up a galloping speed and the drums become almost hypnotic. That crazed shriek at the end of the song is also the perfect way to close out the track. It’s just a perfect song start to finish, top tier doom and one of my favourite tracks of 2023 so far.
There’s a number of other great tracks too, such as MOONPOWERS which actually reminds me to some extent of Nevermore. Throughout the album I pick up on some subtle Warrel Dane vibes, but the opening of thus track in particular really hits that way. The album’s title track SUPERNATURAL is a solid offering of doom and the longest song on the album at 6:53. It has some solid bluesy swagger to it. For me it’s the last part of the song that really helps it to stand out though. Starting from about 5:14 things completely change gear and become quieter, moodier and more brooding. The song is stripped back to minimalist instrumental work and the vocals become far softer and more melancholy. Personally, I think its a great way to close out the album.
Overall, this is one hell of an album and a massive step in the right direction for the band. If this release doesn’t catapult them into the doom world’s spotlight, then something is very wrong in the scene. I can genuinely say that the sheer power and memorability of this album caught me off guard and I’m sure it will for you too.
Listen to and order the album: