Canada’s Black Wizard have continued to carve out a reputation on the local heavy metal scene since their first release back in 2010. Ahead of a UK tour with Anciients, their fourth LP, “Livin’ Oblivion” will keep their riff arsenal well stocked.

The twin guitar attack of Danny Stokes and Adam Grant remains a centre piece and presents itself from the start with an early Iron Maiden styled introduction on “Two Of These Nights” before a juddering riff kicks in. There’s a lot of melody and just enough greasiness to satisfy the stoner metal fans. A slightly punkish edge pops up on “Feast Or Famine”; it’s a galloper with lots of energy but sometimes feels a little chaotic before the garage feel of “James Wolfe” which smacks of Thin Lizzy with its’ cool harmonies and tidy soloing. Title track, “Livin’ Oblivion” proves to be a much stronger affair. A crunchy riff that spirals and comes in with a Grand Magus sort of hit proves to be very hooky.

Over the past decade, the retro stomp of Scandinavian bands like Graveyard and Horisont have made their mark and we find this blues rock infused element appear on the slower, melancholic aura of “Cascadia” – hazy and reflective with just enough grit thrown in. The album’s strengths are more apparent on these middle section tracks. The band explore their Metallica side on “Portraits” where there’s a more pacey, multi-directional flavour coupled with the cranking “Poisoned Again” which is pure heavy metal thunder. A return to the Thin Lizzy inspired sounds announces “Eternal Illusion” which closes out the album. The epic finale is full of militaristic percussion, grumbling bass and circular guitars. Adam Grant’s vocals occasionally hint at a slightly Steve Marriot kind of wail but a little more mettle and power wouldn’t go astray.

Black Wizard’s journey continues in solid fashion. The thing that keeps “Livin’ Oblivion “ fresh is the array of styles and influences that are thrown into the mix. The band give the impression that they’d be a force live and a number of these songs would suit that setting.

(7/10 Johnny Zed)