Reviewed by: Max Miller
So Many Wizards. The name evokes the doom-dirge deserts and billowing bong-smoke riffs of bands like Sleep, Conan and, well, Electric Wizard. As it stands, though, Los Angeles-based four-piece So Many Wizards offer up some gnarly riffs, but they’re less indebted to Matt Pike than they are to Ty Segall. These sorcerers dabble in garage rock, with plenty of jangly, surf-y psychedelia thrown in the proverbial cauldron.
So Many Wizards’ latest full-length, Heavy Vision, does take inspiration from a climate as arid as the desert gracing the cover of the Dopesmoker reissue, however: Tucson, Arizona. This was to be the new home for bandleader Nima Kazerouni, some 500 miles from the rest of the band in L.A. His physical relocation was coupled with a spiritual one as he took on the experience of fatherhood and all its resulting anxieties. Kazerouni sought for a way to channel his new fears into his music so that they might be purged from him, leaving behind only an all-consuming calm.
Heavy Vision, then, is an understandably jittery album, full of short outbursts of nervous energy. Not a one of the album’s twelve tracks hits the four-minute mark, and few even hit three. Opener “Sic Boys” sets the template for many of the songs to follow. Kazerouni begins by singing in an eerie falsetto, reminiscent of Thee Oh Sees’ John Dwyer. As the song gives way to some rapid, jangly arpeggios from guitarist Tomemitsu and quick-paced drumming from Erik Felix, the vocals take on a similar cast to Jacuzzi Boys frontman Gabriel Alcala.
Occasionally, So Many Wizards cool things down for a moment, like on the mid-tempo “Daydream,” which gives bassist Devin Ratliff a chance to thump out some classic Nuggets-inflected bass lines. But, for the most part, the band keeps things kicked into overdrive, especially on barnburners like “Before She Runs” and “Just Poison.”
On the whole, Kazerouni’s existential crises notwithstanding, So Many Wizards do little to break the mold set by an increasing cadre of garage rock bands over the past decade. Small inspired moments shine through here and there — the spooky, dissonant bridge on “Night Chills” or the whispery coda of “Crows” — but Heavy Vision is overall a very safe record. Snippets of everyone from Jay Reatard to Mac DeMarco can be found across the album’s twelve cuts, but they never coalesce into a sound So Many Wizards can truly call their own. And as intriguing as the concept of a garage rock record about the neuroses of a new father might sound, Kazerouni’s lyrics do little to deliver on that concept in a meaningful way. So Many Wizards may have studied their spellbooks and prepared all their potions meticulously, but they might need to change up the ingredients in the future so that they can find a sound that’s truly enchanting.