Old Man Wizard – Kill Your Servants Quietly (2021) – Review

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So, they’re going to burn down the good ol’ homestead and hoof it out of Dodge in a hurry. With a song on their lips and no regrets.

That’s at least what the artwork tells us. And indeed, now that we latched on to Old Man Wizard, the band decided to call it a day and close up shop. Which – of course – can be a fine strategy. Get out as long as the going is greatest (not only good), that kind of thing.

Now, that saddles us with their new album Kill Your Servants Quietly that shall – by this token – also be their last to get a review on this ‘zine. And the outcome of this recension here will tell if this is a good or a sad affair at all.

Because the band indeed sends us that startling piece that’s – boring and fascinating at the same time. Straight from the beginning, the record presents a flat-sounding, smooth slate of often poppy rock. Something that seems to sail on an even keel without too much emotion or sharp edges to speak of.

And indeed, the servant killer here sounds like the seriously toned-down and subdued little brother of what Lunar Shadow tried to impress us with earlier in the year. Boy, the wizards even sampled some sort of a thunderclap storm thing at the beginning, same as the aforementioned band did.

Okay! So, case closed, the review’s done, right?

Well, I wish I could grab that cold beer waiting there in the fridge, but not quite yet. Old Man Wizard are a sneaky bunch. Because, what seems like good weather sailing towards a horizon that you’ll never reach, these waters turn out to be more treacherous than expected.

It already starts with I Prayed. At first, this thing endlessly noodles about the soundscape, until, by 3:30 or so, some progression takes over with a pretty neat little solo that took some of that pain away. And by Jove, only the questionable wisdom of a good dollop of dope may tell you why the band chose to waste the first half of that track with something so dull. Perhaps to make room for all those words telling you that god is not your friend. Who knows, right?

Well, Kill Your Servants Quietly pulls similar stunts later on as well. As in another divine saga called God is Your Friend. Only this time, the tune is a bit more lively. And that seems to be some sort of strategy. The record is full of those little nuggets that inject some motion into a sluggish piece. It is as if they try to bore you to death first with some ditty, and then juggle you awake with a snazzy overlay. Which – again – is a fine strategy. If you don’t use it too much, that is.

The RMR crew relished that frugal, kinda retro-leaning recording sound. As per the band, they did this on purpose by limiting the number of inputs and then mixing everything down to essentials. That’s a pretty technical concept, but it is also the one that kept us moving forward. Because once they injected the overlays, the record became studded with little gems that pop up often. In other words, the aforementioned boring flatness suddenly gets interesting. You’ll never know what other small prize lurks just around the corner.

Now, someone elevated Kill Your Servants Quietly to something called Progressive Heavy Rock. Sure, their tune may be progressive to a point, but it ain’t heavy. You got tracks like Kill Your Servants that attempt some heaviness. Soldier’s Winter may have been ‘heavy’ back in the ’70s. But with this crew’s today’s metal-laced ears, this is a lightly spiced track that goes down like one of those warm wine specialties in the middle of winter. And that, even if we enjoyed that rusty-sounding solo right in the middle of the track.

Old Man Wizard are true multi-talents. The more or less acoustic ballad Your Life1) is one of the best-balanced tracks on the record. Even if the song structure is one of the simplest. And you’ll even get some pretty cool groove on Falling Star, with some prog beats and yet another sublime solo to follow in its juicy wake. Now, this track would be perfect to pump up a crowd on a live set.

But let’s put a tent around this circus, shall we? Kill Your Servants Quietly is a cunning record. At first, it comes across as flat and soulless to a degree. And in truth, the record almost got canned by management over here for that.

But then, layer upon subtle layer of excellence start to appear. Little pots of treasure that suddenly show themselves and turn the piece into a glitzy and thoroughly enjoyable album. Thus, the record won (a lot of) grudging praise for a (simple) rock album from them hardened metalheads over here. Actually, it finally fascinated the hell out of us – despite ourselves.

And that’s quite a feat.

Ed’s note: Fancy more of that ilk? If so, try this.

Record Rating: 7/10 | Label: Self-Released | Web: Official Band Site
Release Date: 5 November 2021


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