Welcome to the latest edition of “Freeloader,” in which we review albums that you don’t have to feel like a douche for downloading for free. Today Satan Rosenbloom checks out Wizard Smoke’s The Speed of Smoke.

I have neither the proper subwoofer nor the proper, y’know, glassware to fully appreciate the bong resin-saturated heaviness of Wizard Smoke’s second album, The Speed of Smoke. To my totally non-high ass though, listening to this album is every bit as enjoyable as burning a fatty, and totally holds up without one.

That’s not something that you can say about just any band of blazing metalheads. Stoner metal can be a torpid bore when it relies on a few pentatonic riffs and the narcotized state of the listener. Not so with Wizard Smoke. No question, these Atlantans have the stoner moves down cold – bass-heavy warmth to the production, psychedelic wah-wah guitar licks, vestigial bluesiness, mid-tempo riff repetition in most songs. But unlike so much fodder for baked headbanging, Wizard Smoke sound angry. Your genial stoner buddy wouldn’t scream “Wipe that smile off your fucking face, you fucking whore!” as James Halcrow does on The Speed of Smoke, would he? Even the band’s most obvious, lunkheaded moments like “Butcher” and “Witches Brew” provide an excellent soundtrack for self-punching, and the punching of others.

But Wizard Smoke go beyond the signifiers, beyond mere hostility. There’s something almost spiritual about the fluid time signature switches in “Dead Wood” and the cosmic vocoder employed on “Weakling.” In fact, the passage from “Weakling” to “Growing” to “Panama II” is totally transcendent, a ritualistic heavy metal godhead, intensified by electric organ and the surprisingly nuanced drumming of Dave Eidson. During these 27 minutes in headcrush nirvana, it’s as if Wizard Smoke has bypassed the weed, and accessed the core of stonedness itself.

(four out of five horns up)


Get The Speed of Smoke in high or low-quality MP3 formats here.

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