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Desert Wizards - 2013 - "Ravens"

(62:14, Black Widow Records)


1.  Freedom Ride 7:45
2.  Babilonya 5:33
3.  Back to Blue 5:51
4.  Blackbird 6:25
5.  Dick Allen's Blues 6:06
6.  Electric Sunshine 5:11
7.  Burn into the Sky 6:05
8.  Vampires Queen 6:50
9.  Bad Dreams 6:53
10. Childhood's End 5:35

Mambo  vocals; bass, guitars
Gito  guitars, vocals, synths
Anna  vocals; organ, piano
Dallas  drums 

Prolusion. The Italian band DESERT WIZARDS was formed back in 2007, releasing an initial EP the following year and making their full-length debut with the self-released production "Dos" in 2010. They signed to the Italian label Black Widow Records shortly after, which released an expanded version of their debut album as "Desert Wizards" in 2011. "Ravens" is the most recent production issued by the band, and was released by the same Black Widow Records in 2013.

Analysis. As this CD opens with the firm riffs and singalong sensibility chant of the chorus on Freedom Ride, this album bears all the hallmarks of a strong and distinct 70s-oriented production with a distinct Black Sabbath influence at the core of the proceedings. Until the elongated, atmospheric epilog, which, for me, is a detrimental feature to this otherwise compelling opening piece, this band sounds like a nice addition to the retro oriented doom metal brigade. Second track Babilonya alters that perception however, as this tranquil creation unfolds into more of a Pink Floyd-oriented affair. From then on we're treated to a band with a strong affection for the music of yesteryear, and a unit fond of blending and mixing elements from different bands into their own vintage stew. The organ is prominent throughout, just about always a presence in some manner or other, in songs that defy any easy associations, but often come across as a more or less well made blend of Deep Purple, Black Sabbath and Pink Floyd. At their most interesting producing vibrant, harder edged material, like the rather Deep Purple oriented Burn Into the Sky, and just about always finding room for an interlude of some kind or other. Gothic atmospheres are explored, the organ adding a distinct emphasis on the Gothic part of the atmosphere, and if the band can find the room for a psychedelic-tinged guitar solo they'll happily tuck it in there as well. That they describe their style as hard psych is rather appropriate, as their music is more of an harder edged affair than anything else. As with many Italian bands vocals are a bit hit and miss, although not terribly so in this case. Still, a mild accent is noticeable throughout, and the singers aren't quite of the capability where they can carry or elevate a song either. Passable is a good word I guess, vocals that fit their chosen style of music fairly well, but without managing to impress as a standalone element. Mix and production of this disc aren't quite of the quality one would expect these days either, although that aspect of the album may boil down to the band seeking to replicate a vintage sound more than anything else. That Desert Wizards have chosen a Pink Floyd cover tune to conclude this CD probably reveals a bit about the band and their stated influences, but at least to my ears, they don't manage to add anything to this song, where the vocals in particular come across as a weak element in this context. A pleasant enough experience, but in this case I do prefer the original.

Conclusion. 70s hard rock appears to be a style of music that has a hard time going out of fashion, and Desert Wizards explore their psychedelic-tinged blend of Black Sabbath, Deep Purple and Pink Floyd in a pleasant enough manner throughout, adding a few Gothic touches here and there when appropriate. And while not a production that will have a massive appeal due to some details slightly lacking in quality here and there, it is an interesting one, and those with a strong affection for retro-oriented hard rock might want to give this one a spin. Especially if the three bands, previously mentioned as likely sources of inspiration, all have their treasured places in your music collection.

OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: February 3, 2015
The Rating Room

Related Links:

Black Widow Records
Desert Wizards


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