Wizard - Goochan 4/5

Reviewed: 3-30-07


1. Witch of the enchanted forest
2. Pale rider
3. Call to the dragon
4. Children of the night
5. Black worms
6. Lonely in desert land
7. Dragon's death
8. The sword of vengeance
9. Two faces of Balthasar
10. Return of the thunder warriors

The latest from Wizard returns to their very best style and quality, and is a fantastic slab of epic melodic fantasy metal.
I recall Wizard as one of the first bands that really took to the "true metal" sub-genre that Manowar gave birth to so uniquely in a time long past, with anthems hailing metal and pure fantasy symbols, including multiple spoken sections of cheesy (and awesome) dark fantasy narration. With 'Bound by metal', however, the band wrapped that once treasured, now ubiquitous, style into an absolutely great CD. From there, the band got into a bit of a Star Trek movie rhythm, with 'Head of the deceiver' being fine but not quite as great, and then came 'Odin', shooting the band to its absolute apex of pure, unbridled, majestic fantasy epic melodic metal in the tradition of Manowar's very best work, consistent thematically and just pure glorious. However, 'Magic circle' again continued the band's rhythm with a perfectly fine CD that wasn't nearly as great as its predecessor. For instance, "Call of the Wild" now conjured up Manowar's more embarrassing moments, rather than their best.

The great news is that 'Goochan' returns the band to absolute top form, and if it doesn't quite equal 'Odin', it's only because that CD was so great, and for those that loved that CD, 'Goochan' will not disappoint. The band returns to a consistent epic theme of a fantasy-sci fi battle, and just delivers pummeling, stirring song after song. (If that sounds tiresome, keep in mind that all musicians in the world would have to stop writing about anything else over the next 1000 years until it eclipsed romantic songs as a cliche). While Manowar circa 'Triumph of steel' is a good starting point for comparison, the band certainly isn't a sound alike, with vocals that hold their own, with their own distinct sound, tremendous technical ability, and great emotion. Nothing wanting there.

"Witch of the enchanted forest" (and yes, that does sound like a song created by the power metal title generator) lays out the spoken intro for the story, while "Pale rider" delivers a great opening track. These are followed by the high point of the CD, "Call to the dragon", and one listen will have its majestic chorus etched into your heart with a sharpened dagger. All the songs are at least enjoyable, memorable, and overall, it's a tremendous package that should thrill fans of 'Odin' and similar metal, because the band has that feeling of real passion and energy in the work, rather than the by-the-numbers-approach we might hear more often in the deluge of similar styles.




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