The Black Wizards – “What The Fuzz!” (2017) review
“Beyond The Fuzz,” a review of The Black Wizards’ second record What The Fuzz!
The Black Wizards exploded on the scene in late 2015 with bombastic first album Lake Of Fire. In a short space time, they evolved from a well intended but quite appealing EP to one hell of a long play. One does not even need to describe how well they master their instruments.
Followed with European Tour and also quite relevant appearances at festivals (I still highly regard SonicBlast Moledo 2016 as one of their very best gigs), The Black Wizards are faced with the always difficult task nowadays of the dreaded follow-up record.
One thing is for sure, The Black Wizards have grown. Not exactly old but experience wise. They have become sage beyond their young years and ears. Hence comes What The Fuzz!, their second record.
It begins with a short freak out collage not unlike Red Krayola’s The Parable Of Arable Land. The sonic landslide only lures you in the realm of what the band has shown before. Thus comes second track with a slow groove that sounds familiar but only to unravel in ripples of blues lament. The vocals have evolved to a sweet banshee like wail. Less angry but equally poignant things are taken slow with no need to go super crazy heavy on us listeners. Only when it’s necessary. One can say they want us to listen to what lies beyond the fuzz and what actually does is rhythmic surprises with time shifts one does not quite expect to appear. From that moment on, rarely is there a coming back to the same path.
Evolution seems to be a key in the mind of these four young adults. Ripping off some fuzzed out bliss on “The Story Of A Hopeless Dreamer,” the riffs are powerfully contagious. It’s almost like you’re listening to a blues record on the wrong rotation but actually enjoying it more that way.
What The Fuzz! revolves around the moment when these wizards agree it is time to let the avalanche of heaviness crumble down on you. With time to experiment in the studio, they came up with some nifty and surprising ideas. The Black Wizards upped their ante with sonic experimentation without ever losing sight of the core roots of having their feet on the ground.
Tracks like “Build Your Home” can switch from groove to groove. A slight jangly tune interspected with some echoes of floydian meadows, it’s on tracks like this one the interest becomes heightened. All that to end up on a hymnal like travelling tune. First single “I Don’t Want To Die” continues on the same vein as if evil is perpetually going on. They really hit their stride with this particular succession of songs that segue into Fire where their conjure up some of the finest guitar sounds from the Planet Holden.
All this leads up to the road of stand out track “Everything Is Good Until Trouble Comes.” It is one of those tracks that leaves me lost for words. The way they build this track is just outstanding. It’s the aural equivalent of looking into the night sky in the countryside searching for shooting stars, planets and satellites.
The amount of melancholy condensed in the last song is overwhelming. Add some finely discreet but present keyboards and top it off with choruses, and you’ll find yourself closing your eyes only to dwell into a dense but subtle forest of sound. Wailing feedback leads into the sunrise. As you open your eyes, you are suddenly drawn back into the day and the very last riffs of What The Fuzz! gives you that frustrated feeling of “the party’s over and you have to go back to reality” with such barren hopelessness, you wonder how peaceful you felt just a few minutes ago. The studio banter at the very end also tells us another thing. This is far from over for this Portuguese band.
One might interpret it as an intermission announcement for the following chapter of what lies ahead for The Black Wizards. For now, What The Fuzz! is already an acknowledgement that there is a meaningful life behind always being at full throttle. Just don’t forget the band still likes to step on their distortion petals. And yes I mean petals, not pedals. And boy, do they like to step all over those petals…
– Carlos Ferreira
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