Maybe it’s just me (and invariably when I say that, it has often been known to be), but I feel really edgy and apprehensive when a record label re-issues a release calling it “Legendary” and as with this one, “One Of Norway’s finest underground Metal releases of modern times”. I think it sets it up for a fall rather than whets the appetite…but then maybe it is, just me. I totally get that a label is trying to sell units and right here they feel they have a product worth pushing, I just have to put that out of my mind and judge the release on it’s own merits – no hype.
Because really, Black Magic are beyond hype – anti-hype or hype-lite if you like, harnessing a sound so utterly and convincingly early 80’s Heavy Metal that to hype them seems almost counter-intuitive to the spirit of the release, almost ruining the mystique that this might, just might be an undiscovered gem from 1982. What this actually is, is a re-release of the band’s 5 track EP “Wizard’s Spell” recorded in 2009 (first released in 2014) with their 2010 demo “Reap Of Evil” tagged on to make the whole thing more like a full album – an A and B side type thing in the spirit of the day.
Dealing with the five “Wizard’s Spell” tracks first, I’m deliberately steering clear of saying plainly NWOBHM as a style, because although this is certainly the root of the band’s sound, there are other Metal elements are noticeable too. Initially there’s a good helping of Angel Witch both musically and lyrically, with additions of early Satan and Witchfynde, plus even hints of Iron Maiden’s debut album on ‘Thunder Of The Undead’, but this is alongside snippets of Mercyful Fate and dashes of classic early 80’s Speed Metal too. However, once we switch onto the “Reap Of Winter” demo things have taken a turn into Venom territory with touches of early Slayer and early Celtic Frost, incorporating a different vocal style and guitar approach to it’s predecessor.
If all these songs were mixed in together the whole thing would have a feel of a diverse retro band trying different angles, but as they are, it sounds like a band doing one thing…and then doing another at a later date…which it is…but it’s rather obvious. That shouldn’t put anyone off from hearing it though – either listen to one ‘side’ or the other…or stick it on shuffle maybe? Either way, I’m not sure I’d personally be hailing this as particularly legendary, it’s more an interesting homage to two different styles of Metal from the past, faithfully reproduced by a group of musicians having fun and experimenting with their own sound. Which at the end of the day, was what underground Heavy Metal was all about at the time anyway!
(7/10 Andy Barker)