Doom/sludge metal/psychedelic rock from USA, latest full-length album released in 2011.
The Speed of Smoke is psychedelic sludge rock– a new musical permutation (emphasis on mutation): there’s definitely sludge here, and it’s assuredly psychedelic, yet sounds like rock, rather than metal. There’s as much hip-shaking as head banging.
I dig it. It’s NWOBHM covering Blue Cheer.
Atlanta’s Wizard Smoke, and their previous work, Live Rock in Hell, were reviewed (on Hallowe’en, no less) here, and included on my top 20 of last year here.
Singer James Halcrow couldn’t have more distinct vocals– something like Sabbat’s Martin Walkyier, yet his own as well: a raspy as hell, how-can-he-not-shred-his-vocal-chords type of voice. You won’t forget it. The lyrics seem to tell a tale that might make a lot more sense stoned.
Starting with opening track “Dead Wood” and continuing throughout the whole album, there’s almost a swing vibe, a rockin’-yet-laid back vibe, like Jimmy Buffet if he were sold into slavery from a young age and abused meth instead of alcohol.
Track 3, “Weakling” drops in a cool talk-box lyric that works, that sounds like a Hammond B-3 organ is talking to you…yeah: this would sound even better stoned. “Panama II” swirls and rotates over the same chord, up and down, back and forth, in a vaguely Middle Eastern vibe… the snake charmer riff...
Overall, it’s a cool, very slight evolution of the sound on Live Rock in Hell. A bit more complex, more adventurous, while maintaining the same identity.
Wizard Smoke's second coming weaves the doom and marijuana riffage of its Live Rock in Hell debut, with prog tendencies that carry the music to higher places. The production is stepped up all around, from songwriting and conceptualization to the overall sound and depth of the recording. "Dead Wood" and "Butcher" open the album as a pair of solid post-Sabbath face-melters. James Halcrow's apocalyptic shriek gets a Vocoder in "Weakling," creating a mercurial feel. There is a detectable cheese factor hiding amid such lyrics as "Vultures perched in high trees, surveying the ground," as heard on "Growing," but it's all part of Wizard Smoke's style. The album's strongest asset is that each song brings something different to the blackened, oceanic metal rhythms, but it's bound by an underlying dirge that peaks with "Witches Brew." It's a monolithic conclusion to a terse album that expands upon Wizard Smoke's already wicked charge, making the band's sound so much greater than the sum of it's doom-laden, stoner-rock parts.