|Review: Wizard - Odin|
Label: Limb Music Products
Year released: 2003
Genre: Heavy Metal
Review online: December 1, 2003
Reviewed by: Sargon the Terrible
Rated 4/5 (80%) (15 Votes)
Ah Wizard, my guilty pleasure. I loved "Head of the Deceiver", but I found it basically indefensible. It was a so-bad-it's-fun kind of album. Between the sloppy playing, overdone imagery and the amusing lyrics it was all too much. That is why I am so happy with "Odin", as it has all the good things about Wizard's last CD, but only a few of the things that made me wince.
Musically this is a refinement of the Wizard sound, certainly not a drastic change. Yes there are still the blurring speedy riffs, the fist-pumping anthemic choruses, the embarrassing falsetto wails of Sven D'Anna – all the expected elements are here. And yet this is ten times tighter, meaner and heavier than Wizard have ever sounded before. I don't know how much of it is just the band maturing, and how much is the work of man of the hour Piet Sielck at the helm, but whatever it was, they need to keep it up. While a lot of the riffs and melodies sound recycled from "Deceiver.." they sound so much better here that I don't care, and I bet you won't either. The production is fat and the band sounds like they were actually sober while recording, as this is tighter than they have ever been. The riffs are aggressive and heavy, the leads actually sound like they were written out rather than just winged on the spot, and even D'Anna – while still not a great singer – sounds infinitely better than he did last time out. He still keeps using his falsetto for ‘high notes', but at least this time it sounds less grating.
But beyond the production and mix, the songwriting here has taken a big step since the last album. This isn't an album that shoots its load after 4 songs, it's very consistent, and the last three tracks are almost as good as the first three. It's not all gold, but speedy headbangers like "The Prophecy" and "The Powergod" as well as the slower riff-pounders like "Thor's Hammer" and "Dead Hope" (which may be the best song they've ever written) are first rate German metal.
Lyrically, these guys have abandoned the silly metal-barbarian worship of previous efforts and written a solid concept album about Norse myth. It isn't the most original idea in metal, to be sure, but they do a good job with it, and these are by far their best lyrics to date.
I am as surprised as anyone that this is such a solid release. I was a Wizard fan before, but I never expected them to produce an album this mature and advanced. This is by far the best work Wizard have done, and I am pleased as punch that these guys got off their butts and worked at the limits of their abilities for a change. I always knew this band was capable of more than they were producing, and with "Odin" they have happily proved me right.
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