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Review: The Wizar’d - Ancient Tome of Arcane Knowledge
The Wizar’d
Ancient Tome of Arcane Knowledge

Label: Heavy Chain Records
Year released: 2015
Originally released in: 2013
Duration: 33:28
Tracks: 6
Genre: Heavy/Doom


Review online: April 2, 2021
Reviewed by: Mjölnir
Readers' Rating
How do you rate this release?

Rated 4.8/5 (96%) (10 Votes)

After being astounded by Subterranean Exile, I decided to look deeper into the back catalog of The Wizar'd. They may have started as a middling Doom act that just didn't grab me, but somewhere along the way they really turned themselves around and became one of the best underground bands working today. I heard that their previous album, Ancient Tome of Arcane Knowledge, was actually significantly better, so my expectations were pretty high. I can't say which album I prefer at the moment, but I can tell you that this album is every bit the masterwork as what came after it.

Ancient Tome of Arcane Knowledge sees the band working that same mystical vein of old-school NWOBHM-infused Doom as they would on Subterranean Exile, only it has a greater emphasis on atmosphere and isn't as immediately gratifying. I was initially underwhelmed with songs like "Blaspheme" and the ballad-esque "Far Away Castles", thinking they were aimless and lacking in substance, but repeated listens reveals a solid grasp of mood and complex songwriting that makes this a fulfilling album to listen to several times over. There are still plenty of songs whose quality is immediately evident, like opener "Turn to Evil'' and the jaw-dropping title track, the latter of which is a powerful epic worthy of Pagan Altar in their prime. But really, every song is excellent, each filled with eye-popping guitar work that'd make Alan Jones proud and the odd vocals of Ol' Rusty, whose nasally wail has more than enough power and charisma behind it to make up for their limited depth.

I really can't say enough good things about this album. It manages the difficult balancing act of sounding authentically old school and innovative at the same time, and from a band I initially wrote off as bog standard Doom, that's nothing short of aspirational. The Wizar'd are proof that any band can make themselves into a first-rate act with enough time and effort, and Ancient Tome of Arcane Knowledge will make you believe that in no time. Masterful.

More about The Wizar’d...
Review: Follow the Wizard (reviewed by Ulysses)
Review: Subterranean Exile (reviewed by Mjölnir)
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