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Maybe you're wrong, but Satan's power is strong! - 80%

Jophelerx, December 29th, 2013

As I've mentioned in other reviews, the Dutch heavy/power/speed metal scene is one of the most criminally overlooked movements out there. There are many great bands from the 80s that very few people have heard of; Martyr, Vault, Mysto Dysto, Leader, Angus, and the topic of today's review, Dark Wizard (to name just a few). Along with Martyr's Darkness at Time's Edge and Vault's Sword of Steel, I consider this to be one of the very best releases to come out of that scene. While not as innovative as Martyr or as sword-wieldingly powerful as Vault, Dark Wizard's greatness comes in their ability to write absurdly catchy guitar and vocal hooks, as well as hilariously memorable lines, especially given vocalist Berto Van Veen's style of delivery. While not terribly early for heavy metal, even in the Netherlands (Picture had an album in 1983, and Vault had two), 4 out of the 5 songs here were on their first demo in 1983, so they definitely weren't behind at any rate. Their dark and occult yet catchy style is sort of reminiscent of Angel Witch with touches of Motorhead, but that doesn't really do them justice. While at first listen the EP may seem sort of generic, there are some subtler differences in the songwriting that clearly make Dark Wizard their own entity.

Van Veen is an interesting vocalist; very exuberant, possessed of an excellent range, and technically pretty good, but a bit strange in his delivery. He has a nasal, slightly gritty tone, maybe a bit like Mark Shelton combined with Lemmy from Motorhead. He also has a pretty strong accent, but it only adds to the experience, as his almost happy-go-lucky delivery combined with the accent make for some very entertaining lines. The riffs are also pretty happy-sounding in some songs, especially "Mr. Nice" and "Big Typhoon". The other 3 songs are far from mournful but not quite as blatantly bright and silly.

As DeathRiderDoom mentions in his review, "Poisoned Whiskey" takes the most Motorhead influence, sounding quite a lot like their early material up until Another Perfect Day. "Trip to Doom" has more of an epic flair, taking a lot more NWOBHM influence but with more of an edge and with better-flowing songwriting than most NWOBHM bands. That's the thing about Dark Wizard; it's not that they're doing anything terribly mind-blowing, it's just that the songwriting, the vocals, and the production are all so fantastic that it just blows most other classic heavy metal out of the water. The guitar, bass, and drumming are all very organic without being too low in the mix, and the vocals are loud and clear.

Some of the priceless vocal lines include the title of the review, from the chorus of "Mr. Nice". Hearing Van Veen deliver that line so pleasantly with such a bright atmosphere similar to that of glam rock or europower is completely hilarious; I can't help but have a huge silly grin on my face whenever I hear it. This may sound terrible, and would be if, again, the songwriting weren't so brilliant. The line in the same song where he says "Please call me Mister Nice!" is actually much more sinister and gritty. Whether intentional or not, it makes for a very entertaining juxtaposition. "Big Typhoon" has some great lines as well; Van Veen sings about all types of fantastical creatures, mostly from horror, like "ghost-men" (I think - his pronunciation makes it a bit hard to decipher) "with angry eyes", devils "with pointy horns", etc. all meeting during - you guessed it - a big typhoon. Witches, vampires, and other common Halloween-ish creatures are referenced, yet the song is so upbeat and the lyrics are so cheesy it comes off much differently than you'd expect it to. The song makes it seem as if the devils, witches, vampires, etc. are all coming together to befriend one another or some such thing.

If you can't stand a bit (read: a lot) of cheese in the lyrics and vocal delivery of an album, this EP is not for you. If you don't want to hear dark, often occult tropes presented in a bright and cheerful manner, this EP is not for you. But if you like heavy, rocking riffs, terrific solos, fun choruses, and hilarity, go find this diamond in the rough NOW. It's been one of my favorite traditional metal releases for quite awhile and I don't think that's ever likely to change.

Black Magic - 80%

DeathRiderDoom, May 24th, 2009

Dark Wizard – EP

This little piece of unknown Dutch heavy metal is steeped in NWOBHM, with a slight departure in heaviness and evil-ism. Netherlandic act Dark Wizard are a classy, yet often under-acknowledged group of lads that craft a memorable collection of tracks with a distinctive sound on this dark battle-hardened EP. Five songs is a great number for EPs, with your standard being four – so extra marks for that.

All songs are pretty strong, with even the slow starting and lamely monikered ‘Mr Nice’ providing some later thrills, with a Sabbath feel and evil, corrupted feel to it – in conjunction with some great production. What sticks out in this song is the driving thumpiness of the rhythm section, with some skilled stick antics courtesy of Tony White. The drums are mixed really well – sounding thunderous and adding a boisterous tone to the songs.

The opener ‘Poisoned Whiskey’ is an uproarious, Motorhead-esque affair, with all the spine shattering riffage of the British act and a lot of NWOBHM –type attitude and subject matter. Writing songs about whiskey is pretty 70’s hard rock, but a very well done effort with this cut.

Your title track here is an awesomely powerful number that carries on the Motorhead/’Sabbath heavy sound with some more horror/darkness attached to it. The intro is haunting, with some Dio era Sabbath touches courtesy of the Geezer Butlerishness of the bass. This one evidences some real hungriness and intensity on behalf of the five-piece. Berto Van Veen’s vocals reach some soaring heights, while the guitars come through with some great layering and real genuine energy. A favourite of mine with a lot going on, and a great narrative.

This EP features as a great lead up to the bands seminal full-length, and marks yet another strong 1984 release, making the year of my birth a real winner for metal. All songs on this one feature a low tuned sound with prominent Sabbathness on bass a surplus of power that is not limited to the kinetic energy and lightning contained in the slower number ‘Typhoon’ with its references to vampires flying in the sky – phenomenal. Tracks like the aforementioned have incredible, unbridled energy, executed with the right touches of melody making for a memorable number by anyone’s standards. A must for collectors of classic metal.

-DeathRiderDoom