Wizardrone’s sound is thick and swampy, but also quite distant and eerie. Whilst there are a couple of misfires, when Jason is on form he totally nails it. ‘Curse Of The Ill Fated’ is perhaps the most successful track here, with its gargantuan riffs and militaristic drumming rolling out of the speakers like some kind of mystical sonic tank, flattening your face in the process. The howling vocals and extended psychedelic outro are the icing on the cake, making this song feel like Ufomammut’s younger brother. ‘Loxleigh The Warlock’s Apprentice’ churns along with queasy grooves, distant reverb drenched vocals and eerie occult vibes, and the evil sounding riff halfway through ‘Blood Of The Heretic’ is great, complete with an almost Burzum-esque drumbeat. ‘Army Of The Ancients’ escalates into full-on bouts of doom-laden riff worship, that sounds a bit like an Electric Wizard practice being recorded from a few rooms away.
It may seem like an obvious comparison, but aesthetically speaking, Wizardrone feels kind of like a less de-tuned Black Mayonnaise. The supremely lo-fi production values are both a blessing and a curse for many of these lysergic funeral dirges; whilst the muffled bass tone prevents much of the material from coming across as truly crushing, the hazy sound does lend these songs a strange and slightly unnerving atmosphere. And, like Black Mayonnaise, Jason seems to be at his best when operating in the less conventional spheres of songwriting. The soundscape pieces like ‘Deuteronomy (After The Beginning)’ and ‘Enter The Desolate Woods Of Fear’ are especially atmospheric and really add something to the album, and are often more captivating than some of the doomier fare on offer.
Standing at a well over an hour, ‘Wizardrone’ is quite a mammoth undertaking, but unlike some doom odysseys, doesn’t quite feel cohesive enough to warrant its lengthy running time. A little trimming would ultimately result in a better listening experience, but there’s still enough bizarre, acid-fried outsider doom on offer here to entice the more adventurous listener. Jason seems to have a knack for conjuring up strange atmospheres, with much of the record feeling like the aural equivalent of an extremely warped Hammer Horror VHS, and it should be pretty interesting to watch him hone his craft further on future recordings.
words by Kez Whelan