Lately, a close personal friend of this website, Mr. Jason Cantu (read more about him here, as part of my wife’s ongoing interview series), has been all atwitter about this sludge/doom band from Saint Louis called Fister. Now, I’ve always had a lot of respect for his judgement about things, because anytime he’s recommended something it’s always been a winner: he seems to really pay attention to what people listen to, and so if he says “You’ll like this,” chances are you will.
But you don’t just have to take my word for it. Jason’s opinions have just gained a whole new level of credibility, as he has recently joined the ranks of The Sludgelord as a contributing writer. So you know that’s no B.S., since that site is world-renowned as a leading authority on heavy music.
So anyway, Fister. The first time I heard of these guys was last year, when one of their songs was included on the Doommantia benefit comp. That song was very slow and heavy, raw and noisy. All things that I would later discover to be part of this band’s signature style.
Fast forward to the present day; Fister are currently in the midst of an excursion across the Midwest and the northeast, which includes a stop in Pittsburgh tonight! All the members of Cantu‘s band Slaves BC have been talking about how excited they are to be part of this show, so I figured it was about time for me to do some investigating.
As it turns out, Fister has quite a lot of material available on their Bandcamp page, so I decided to tackle their most recent album, Gemini (released earlier this year), which is their second full-length. Here’s what I discovered…
Wizard Smoke – The Tickler (self-released, 28 September 2012)
In a world that often feels overrun by generic stoner/psychedelic metal bands, where you can hardly turn around without running into another group of hirsute Big-Muff-pedal-stompers, who use more drug references per song than an entire Cheech and Chong movie that co-stars Bill Hicks, and who often get complimented on the cool fog machine effects during their shows when in fact they don’t even use one…
I think you get the idea. Anyway, in spite of all of that, Atlanta, Georgia’s Wizard Smoke have always stood out among the crowd, to me; their output easily meeting the standards set by some of their more famous fellow southern U.S. contemporaries, as well as that of any of the similarly-named bands you might think of, either across the country or across the pond.
My deep appreciation for this group began the very first time I heard one of their songs — that being the opening track from 2009’s Live Rock in Hell, the confusingly titled “II”. The rest of that album and the 2011 follow-up The Speed of Smoke both maintain a pretty consistently high quality of material, but “II” remains among my absolute favorites across the entire genre.
I guess the point I’m trying to drive home is, if you are a fan of all things fuzzy and sludgy, and you also enjoy harsh vocals that often veer into blackened territory, you really ought to be familiar with the Wizard Smoke catalog. Lucky for you, I’ll have some helpful links later on.
But first, I want to say a few words about The Tickler, the new EP they just made available about a week and a half ago. Like everything else the band has done so far, it’s good stuff — and also like everything else they’ve released, you can download it totally free!