Riding a wave of critical acclaim which has seen the Shaman Recordings released 12″ vinyl version of last years top notch Doom album ‘Nature Is The Devil’s Church’ down to the last few copies (don’t fear the album was also released via Burning World Records on CD and Digital Download), Liverpool’s Black Magician are back with a three track EP to satisfy their coven of dedicated followers.
Available on limited 7′ vinyl only their latest release also features an insert drawn especially for them by legendary and enigmatic artist Kris Guidio of Lord Horror and The Cramps fame showing that not only do Black Magician talk the retro talk, but they walk it too, not only embracing the format but ensuring that the accompanying artwork is as much part of the whole quality experience in an age of digital disposability
Like the previous release ‘The Pursuivant EP’ sees the band shunning cutting edge technology and harking back to a more organic era to create a sound heavily influenced by 60’s/70’s Prog Rock and Folk heritage, not only in flavours of sound but in the medieval themes. Drawing inspiration from Welsh author and mystic Arthur Machen and English originator of the “antiquarian ghost story” M.R James, the subject matter for the three tracks are awash with themes from the classic supernatural and horror genres.
The band many have tried to distance themselves from the current trend for pseudo-occult rehashed doom posturing and clichéd horror film imagery but what they have created is something much more sincere, a genuine fascination with the darker side of British history. In fact they may have produced the best soundtrack to every classic Hammer Horror movie made.
Beginning with familiar Black Magician fayre the title track for the EP opens with ringing chords awash with organs and weird effects transporting you to a very English feeling past. Folk inspired passages and a funereal like menace runs through the track as the lyrics are spat and snarled or sung like an ancient street preacher in some plague ridden village. Amidst all this plodding Doom and dark fearful subject matter there are theatrical organ runs and the music builds from the churning riffs to tense, urgent passages that have more in common with the likes of Candlemass and Pentangle in their baroque and Gothic leanings
Grene Knyght (complete with dodgy Chaucerian spelling) showcases the other side of the band that stood out on their long player. Heavily folk influenced, the track is a wistful number with beautifully picked guitar and clean vocals. There is a sense of stillness that creates an eye of the storm feel and highlights the dexterity of the musicians to turn their hand from brutal, intense primordial metal, to haunting gentle acoustics.
The closing track, Black Henbane, picks the tempo back up in a roaring cascade of noise; frantic drumming and a break neck pace (by Black Magician’s standards anyway) it snatches the listener out of the mellow vibe previously created and into a huge atmospheric instrumental where the band go full tilt into pounding metal and squealing freak outs.
As a brief snapshot of the prowess of the band this EP is perfect – Everything Black Magician impressed with on their debut album is condensed here and refined for a quick fix of new material. If you are new to the band this is a great place to dip your toe in the water. If you are an existing fan not only will you have to be quick on your feet to grab the limited release on the 30th August, but it will leave you craving more.
Scribed by: Mark Hunt-Bryden