review published: 6/6/2014
Four reviews into our relatively new "unsigned band reviews" series, we've finally encountered a band that isn't significantly derivative: Wizard Castle. And yes, the effort is nearly as glorious as the band's name.
Formed in Chicago in 2010, Wizard Castle is an entertaining fusion of traditional heavy metal, progressive rock, and thrash. Post heavy metal, perhaps? If genres are important to you, sorry, you'll find no closure here.
White Breath gets off to a rousing start with "Winged Mother." This meticulously crafted track strikes just the right balance between heavy and infectious. Guitar leads swirl around a galloping groove, anchored by effective vocals, all of which thump their way into a cool middle section featuring a nice guitar solo.
Both the recording and the band's performance are moderately raw; slight imperfections pop up frequently. But rather than detract from the experience, they imbue a level of sincerity to the outing. Wizard Castle's dedication and passion seem to drip off every fuzzy note.
The next two tracks, "White Breath" and "Code of Violence," are nearly as effective. The variety afforded by having two primary vocalists is noticeable amidst the two. "Code of Violence" sounds as if 90's era Henry Rollins is providing half of the vocals. Two good songs.
Following the album's fastest, albeit weakest, cut, "Asunder," the band returns to form on "Looks Like Rain." The song begins with slow grooves that give way to some simple thrash rock; slightly catchy but not particularly energizing. Thankfully, the relatively uninspired first half leads into a great, dare I say moving, closing. Nicely done.
"Knarr" is an instrumental affair featuring an enchanting chord progression while "Signs and Wonders" is one of the album's heaviest tracks. Its dual guitar leads and featured guitar solo (over a thumping bass) are particularly noteworthy.
White Breath ends its roughly 34 minute reign with "La Lechuza," yet another track with admirable grooves and quality guitar work. One of Wizard Castle's selling points is their knack for timing. They never linger too long on any one riff, yet still manage to give each solo and progression the attention they deserve. When all is said and done, this album jogs right by, leaving its mark but never flogging any dead horses. Economically epic, Wizard Castle is.
Bottom Line: Throw Baroness, Iron Maiden, old Exodus, and Kylesa into a rusty blender, and perhaps you'll get an idea what Wizard Castle's White Breath sounds like. Perhaps not. Seriously, just forget about comparisons and enjoy this album. It's good.
Track Listing: 1. Winged Mother 2. White Breath 3. Code of Violence 4. Asunder 5. Looks Like Rain 6. Knarr 7. Signs and Wonders 8. La Lechuza