THE WIZAR’D have long been one of doom’s best-kept secrets. But on “Subterranean Exile” they finally disclose all the jewells and goods they have cultivating along three arcane metal albums before. For the creation of their fourth studio album, “Subterranean Exile”, Australian occult doom metallers THE WIZAR’D employed an audio alchemical process called “Arcane Metal Magick”, it is the gateway to doom metal that is equally mystical as it is vintage, recalling the likes of Black Sabbath, Witchfinder General, Pagan Altar, Saint Vitus and Trouble, capital words…
Hello Ol’ Rusty, Subterranean Exile is your 4th full-length, but there is a gap of seven years with the former Ancient Tome of Arcane Knowledge, what happened?
We have actually been working on Subterranean Exile since we finished writing our last album in 2012. We wanted to spend as long as necessary writing music that we were completely happy with, as we’ve never felt like we need to rush out albums. During that time we played quite a lot of shows around Australia and had a couple of line up changes, as well as writing, recording and playing shows with other bands, so we are all very active with music.
Any evolution in style since the old times of the band?
I think this new album is just the logical progression for us, we’ve slowly been building our sound since we began in 2004, evolving from a fairly primitive and simplistic sound into the more nuanced and refined sound we have today. We are still influenced by all the same bands as when we started though, stuff like Black Sabbath, Pagan Altar, Trouble, Saint Vitus, Pentagram etc
How long have you worked in the composition of Subterranean Exile and how was the process?
The first songs for the new album were written in 2012 shortly after we finished working on Ancient Tome of Arcane Knowledge. So the writing process was around six years or so, with another two years of recording, mixing and making further refinements to get everything exactly how we wanted it.
Probably many guys out there have never heard about THE WIZAR’D, so when they first listen to this awesome Subterranean Exile they will probably say “shit, what have i been missing?”
That would be cool if that’s peoples initial reaction. I think this album is the most accessible thing we’ve done to date, but it still has elements that some people might find challenging. Usually my vocals are a hurdle for some people to get over, but we’ll see how it goes when the album is out.
I would not describe you as a doom band, because you also have a lot from the big times of the dark and occult side of the NWOBHM, what do you think?
I think what people consider ‘doom metal’ is very subjective. I personally wouldn’t call a lot of bands that get lumped in to the doom metal category as such. To me there is more to it than just tuning your guitar as low as possible and singing about smoking weed. I’m also a strong believer that NWOBHM is not a genre of music, as it encompasses so many different bands and styles. Would you say that Venom sound like Pagan Altar, or Bashful Alley sound like Hell? Our influences are fairly broad but I think when they are all put together the result is total doom.
An interesting opinion to think about. What bands you have grown up listening and how have they influenced in the blend of that great music you display in Subterranean Exile?
I would say the metal stuff I was into when I was getting into the good stuff when I was around 13 or 14 would have been all the usual suspects, Sabbath, Metallica, Slayer, Motorhead etc etc Over time I was exposed to more obscure stuff and when I was around 15 or so I became obsessed with doom metal bands like Trouble, Saint Vitus, the first two Electric Wizard albums, Pentagram etc and it just spiralled out of control from there searching for more obscure and sinister bands.
In fact, the melodies you create are one the great values of your new album
I think the evil melodies are very important for us, they help us sculpt our macabre vision and bring everything to life. They are something we worked hard on to find just the right mix of melancholy and malevolence.
Another winner in the album is your voice, Ol’ Rusty, it has that underground taste and reminds me a lot of the big Mark Shelton, a voice with personality & weight in the album
Thank you for saying so. My vocals are usually the deal breaker for most people who listen to us and I dare say they are the reason we haven’t had much of a following thus far. I’m a huge fan of Mark Shelton and Manilla Road so I take that as a huge compliment. I love vocalists who do their own thing even if it means they sing in an unconventional way – people like Ozzy, Steve Sylvester, Paul Chain, Mark the Shark, Zeeb Parkes etc Their vocals made their music what it is in my opinion.
Absolutely. Guitars are of course brilliant along the album, dark and addictive at the same time. Where do you get the inspiration from?
The usual suspects I would say. I think my biggest influence for the leads would be Alan Jones, but you can’t look past the greats: Tony Iommi, Paul Chain, Mark Shelton, Scorpions, Wishbone Ash etc etc
The album is around 35 minutes long, but I would not complain if it were 2 hours. Did you dismiss any song during the recording process or ever?
No we didn’t have any extra material for this one. The length was intentional, as I feel albums that are around the 35 minute mark are the perfect length. I don’t really find myself listening to long albums these days.
I do think so, we are twin souls I’m discovering 🙂 By the way, why the nicknames and how you chose them?
We don’t use nicknames…
Oh! What are the lyrics about?
The lyrics cover all manner of topics, that fall under one broad umbrella. I think I would be remiss if I explained them to you. Their power belongs in deciphering their message and acting upon what you find. Oh what strange dimensions may be yours to behold.
The cover art is simply what you expect when you listen to a band as THE WIZAR’D, any especial meaning behind it?
Again, I don’t think it’s wise or correct for me to explain the exact meaning behind the cover. It was interpreted by my brother when he painted it after listening to the album, and we invite you to gaze upon it while you listen and do the same. My words will not do it justice.
I would say this is your best album so far. Can it be improved in any way?
Thank you for your kind words! I think this is the best thing we’ve done so far too. I’m sure we still have room for improvement and development. I still feel we have more ground to cover in our journey which to me is a sign that we shall continue to progress, as once I feel like we have nothing more to say or add, we will cease to be.
We are living hard times with the coronavirus all around the world. How are you dealing with the situation daily? Has it changed your life?
Fortunately my day to day routine hasn’t changed that much other than not being able to see my family and friends, and not rehearsing with The Wizar’d or Tarot. I’ve been working from home for a couple of years now anyway so I’m still here working away. I live with a couple of cool people, I’ve got plenty of drinks and other things to help change my mind and have lots of records to listen to and music and recording equipment to write and work on, so I’m actually doing fine.
It sounds good. With this virus free out there I suppose it is not time to think about a tour in the short term at least, but afterwards?
Well before all this started we were looking at getting some shows together and at least playing around Australia. That has all been put on hold for now of course, so I think we will have to wait and see. We would love to come back to Europe some day, maybe next year it will happen.
While in Spain the population was already enclosed at home by law I saw images in the TV with people in Australia enjoying at the beach. Is the situation so good over there?
We are currently in an extremely strict lockdown as I’m sure you are all too familiar with. We have soldiers in the streets for the first time in our history and have very harsh fines or prison sentences for people who disobey. I think what you would have seen is a bit of a delay as it seemed to hit Europe a couple of weeks earlier than here. The streets are empty at the moment.
The same sad situation everywhere then. Thank you very much for your time man, wish you good health and success with your new album, if you wish to add something...
Thank you for the interview, and same to you. Beware The Wizard’s revenge, we will be coming for you!