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Sunday, January 26, 2014

Sunday Sludge: Wizard Union - "Smoking Coffins"

As nuts as it can make me, I do have to give my boys credit for blindly following one rule: do whatever the fuck you want and make sure everyone else knows how good it feels. Maybe they've got the right outlook, or maybe I've allowed their misguidance to embed too deeply. But if I could capture the elation they find on a minute-by-minute basis, maybe I wouldn't need to slurp my senses toward 90 proof stutters. And how can I take things so seriously when the only lyric stenciled in my ear is "Lungsmen unearth the creed of Hasheeshian," y'know?

Fuck it, man. I needed a good time. Don't worry, the sludge-doom misanthropy, witch trials, and ultimate abandonment of the American Dream will all return next Sunday. Ann Arbor's Wizard Union sent me to a better place this morning, free of expectation and loaded with weedian repetition. You could squeeze in Smoking Coffins' six tracks during a smoke break to return refreshed and less hateful of your boss, your tie, and the realization that you'll never get promoted with that ink on your neck (your friends said she was no good, didn't they?).

If you're gonna open your debut EP with a track entitled Into the Wizard Sleeve, you could expect an element of doubt. The swampy fuzz immediately diminishes any bent schlock, however, chopping on metered licks just dirty enough to get under your nails and make small-town girls blush. Sure, there's a sleaze factor; isn't that the point? Echoing a whiff of John Garcia, the vocal slides up-close and greasy, inducing dizziness and crossing our eyes as we struggle to look forward.

Still churning but with more static is the follow-up, Aura of Evil. Dragging listeners through a poached, muddy field, this fuzz-coated lumber of slow-swung doom waits for you to dip your crusty toes and feel a quick pinch. But sting hits much quicker on the closing title track, a short and slippery beef chunk dedicated to dirty faces and swollen riffs. The chewy stoner-sludge ends abruptly, which is nice for a change. The parallels between tracks one and six are numerous and these fattened bookends are perfectly placed.

The rainy saturation of Sorcerer's Blues slices cheese and chips ice, stoning sludge-drafted rhythms with every repetitious riff. Progressions whittle on Thoth Amon, re-ascending on Sabbath-y wood-shredded slugs that burn like fire. But the spacey fuzz and sludge drag of Beyond This World lick and poke heads above cloudy water, only to convulse on licks and return to sludge tempos. Chippy brake-checks never quite stall the motor, and the hollow buzz swells with smoke and turns the track into the strongest on the EP.

These nugs are short, punchy, and catchy, while the buzz is nearly numbing. I tried to tell you this was gonna be fun. The second listen was better than the first, and I'm not leaving this EP any time soon. Sludge, doom, stoner metal... The influences here are numerous and well-honored. Smoking Coffins spreads with sores, but you can scratch that kitty with half-smiles when the burn is this mellow. Get a bucket; Wizard Union are about to fuzz.

For fans of: Sabbath, Fu Manchu, (some) Mudhoney
Pair with: Bell's Cherry Stout, Bell's Brewery, Inc.

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