White Magician – Dealers of Divinity Review

In the unhallowed halls of Angry Metal Guy World Headquarters, some of the thralls writers wax on about what a great year it has been for death metal. I would put forward that it’s also been pretty decent for traditional/epic/classic metal – or whatever you want to call it. Megaton Sword, Wytch Hazel, Armored Saint, High Spirits, Traveler, even Greyhawk, and a half-dozen other bands all turned out high quality material this year. Enter White Magician, a quartet of like-minded classic metal aficionados from Detroit, and their debut release, Dealers of Divinity. These guys hope to take their brand of classic rock and metal all the way to the top. Professing to be a blend of Mercyful Fate and Blue Öyster Cult, could the odds be stacked in their favor?

Stellar axemanship is hyped on Dealers of Divinity, and The Great Kaiser and Mars Mysterio1 do their best to hit us hard with their six-stringed wands. They worship at the altar of More Is Less, and it is. The seven songs here are rife with twin guitar melodies and overly complex riffing. When they calm down and focus on rhythm, which is rarely, it works better. Case in point: the verses of “Mad Magic II: In the Absence of Gods (Bad Magic)”2, as opposed to the opening riff. Complex music should still be catchy, and too often here the band goes down labyrinthine rabbit holes that do not lead to any sort of promised land.

There are no good songs on Dealers of Divinity. However, each song does have moments that work, and it’s a shame White Magician couldn’t focus on those moments and give them space in these cluttered songs. Before the vocals start, “In Memoriam: Love and Magic (Magic and Love)” features solid rhythm and some pretty great guitar melodies. The band lose sight of what makes the song good when The Great Kaiser sings, and not because he’s no good; fact is, he’s got a decent voice for this style. But the music just goes down roads it shouldn’t during verses and choruses. “Magia Nostra” has some cool moments, including a great guitar solo a third of the way in, and “Power of the Stone” has a spiffy riff around the same mark. The problem is both these songs are over eight minutes long, and only have a few minutes of effective songwriting. The rest of the time they wander aimlessly down the halls of overwriting.

Most of these songs are long and messy, with a cluttered feel that is not rhythmically pleasing. Five of these songs are well over the seven-minute mark, with meandering, nonsensical arrangements that will have listeners wandering away bored. The shortest song, “Fading Into the Obscurity of Ages,” is an acoustic interlude that maybe tells a story only the band is aware of, and thus adds nothing to the album. To their credit, though, Kaiser and Mysterio both show ample talent on guitar, and the former is a decent enough singer. It’s hard to say how good the rhythm section is; Drummer Master Commandriani and low magic player Mofang Tengrand rarely provide rhythm. It seems like they spend most of their time trying to keep up with the guitars.

I’ve said it before – to excel at retro metal you need to bring your A game. White Magician brought their C game. I question the note that these guys sound like Blue Öyster Cult and Mercyful Fate; perhaps a slight vibe of the former, but there’s nothing at all like the latter on this album. That being said, this is a massive step up from their gimmicky “1977” release The Pledge in all facets – songwriting, performances, and most especially production. Still, White Magician have a long way to go if they want to harness, mold, and then unleash the magic of days gone by.

Rating: 1.5/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 320kbps mp3
Label: Cruz Del Sur Music
Websites: whitemagicianmi.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/whitemagicianmi
Release Worldwide: November 20th, 2020

Show 2 footnotes

  1. Yeah, sorry, these guys are all in on the pseudonym schtick.
  2. Yeah I typed out that whole title because word count.
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