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Review: Wizard - Trail of Death
Trail of Death

Label: Massacre Records
Year released: 2013
Duration: 53:08
Tracks: 11
Genre: Power Metal

Rating: 3.75/5

Review online: February 17, 2014
Reviewed by: MetalMike
Readers Rating
Trail of Death

Rated 3.4/5 (68%) (10 Votes)

Long-running German Power Metal band Wizard is back with full-length album #10, Trail of Death. Head of the Deceiver, released back in 2001, was one of the albums that brought me back to Heavy Metal after I'd assumed it was dead and gone in the early 90s, so I always anticipate new Wizard releases eagerly. Their last album, 2011's ...of Wariwulfs and Bloutvarwes, was a mixed bag of patented Wizard ass-kicking, speedy Power Metal and misfiring, slower attempts at a more epic sound and Trail of Death continues down that path. Tracks like "Creeping Death," Electrocution," and "One for All" are just pure Wizard and even a casual fan will immediately recognize the band's distinct sound. The keys are a little more obvious this time around, but in a way that rounds out the sound and doesn't detract from it. The crunchy guitars, melodic riffs and gravelly vocals are battle-tested and aren't new but represent Wizard doing what they do best. When this band lets it rip, they are a lot of fun. The attempts at epic don't fare as well and songs like "War Butcher" and "Angel of the Dark" sound clumsy and forced and are not nearly as catchy as some of the faster tunes. The tempos are slower and Wizard employs instruments like timpani to create a more expansive atmosphere, but the songwriting can't match the scope the band is shooting for. I can't fault Wizard for trying something new but they haven't got it nailed down like they do with the faster songs.

There's enough "typical" Wizard crunchy Power Metal on Trail of Death to keep the long-time fans quite happy and, even though they don't work as well, I applaud the band for trying to expand their horizons. Even the "ballad," "Death Cannot Embrace Me," is pretty good so, while Trail of Death may not match the heights of Wizard's best, it is a solid effort.

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