Up until now the Wizard Smoke formula has been fairly consistent: mountainous slabs of crushing doom metal riffs and THC enhanced psychedelic grooves coupled together with singer James Halcrow’s throat-shredding vocals. I’m oversimplifying things of course; reducing the band’s music to some plug-and-play recipe is an insult to just how adventurous and complex their songs are on an individual basis. But suffice it to say that there is a definitive Wizard Smoke sound, and that sound, from their debut EP, Live Rock in Hell, to last year’s follow-up, The Speed of Smoke, has been carefully sculpted and honed to fit the band’s unique aesthetic.
But on “Christian Cross,” the lead track from the group’s forthcoming two-song EP, The Tickler, the five-piece find themselves expanding their palette, incorporating a sped up tempo and scorching desert rock riffs in the vein of Kyuss and Queens of the Stone Age. It’s not a monumental leap from their usual sludgy stoner doom assault, but the shift in dynamics manages to provide the music with a raw sense of urgency and a new vitality. And loyal doom fans, worry not. The 60-second sneak preview is only a glimpse at what Wizard Smoke has in store. There’s still plenty of murky down-tuned guitars and hammering grooves to soak in and zone out to, I promise.
The Tickler was recorded earlier this year in Athens with Kyle Spence (Harvey Milk) at the production helm. The band is still in the process of developing artwork for the release, but the plan is to press 300 45-rpm 12″ copies which should be ready in September.