Aural Fix: Wand

on April 8, 2015
Photo by Meghan Tryon

Photo by Meghan Tryon

If there’s an underserved community in music, it’s folks that like their music heavy but—and here’s the wrinkle—with vocals that aren’t a guttural growl or piercing scream. Somehow it has become a sad reality that the heavier the music, the more angry and distorted the singing. How many bands offer giant riffs without accompanying screeches or garbage-disposal grunts? Before Jane’s Addiction became a caricature of themselves, they offered that; Mastodon increasingly offers cleaner (or no) vocals. It’s a short list.

Golem, the new LP by L.A.’s Wand, belongs right at the top of that list. Featuring elements of hardcore and metal filtered through a late ’60s/early ’70s rock radio sensibility, these tracks thrash and stomp through tempo changes and riffs that would make Ritual de lo Habitual-era Dave Navarro proud. “Self-Hypnosis In 3 Days” splits the difference between Foo Fighters and Krautrock while “Reaper Invert” suggests The Moody Blues on steroids. “Melted Rope” and closer “The Drift” fall on the gentler side of the spectrum but don’t stray from rock territory. Like Foxygen or Ty Segall, Wand seems to have absorbed and transformed the vibe and sensibility of classic rock mainstays without sounding like throwbacks or a cover band. Promisingly, all nine tracks of Golem sound tight but not overly polished or manipulated. There’s every chance that Wand’s live show will pick up right where the album leaves off: with wall-of-sound guitars, big hooks, and vocals that don’t sound like chainsaws. Start to finish it’s intriguing—heavy enough to satisfy metalheads but melodic enough to reach beyond that genre. »

– Eric Evans

Wand plays April 12 at Doug Fir

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