Wizard – Metal in My Head Review

I’m not quite sure how this is possible, but I didn’t know that Germany’s Wizard even existed until Steel Druhm mandated that I clear my schedule for this week to review the band’s 12th studio album, Metal in My Head. I mean, they play exactly the kind of ball-busting, artery-clogging cheese metal that originally enticed me to emerge from my primordial metalcore soup and set me on my way to becoming a full-fledged trve metal organism. Under Steel‘s advisement, I prepared for this review by listening to the band’s 2003 opus Odin, and I found that it was good. After years of listening to bands like Manowar, Dream Evil, and Sabaton, I’ve learned that it is nearly impossible to listen to this sort of bare-chested, anthemic metal without have one’s spirit taking flight, and who couldn’t use a dose of spiritual altitude during times like these? The question is, can Wizard still fly the metal skies after more than three decades in the biz, or is it time they hanger up for good?

Not a flashy, new-fangled, supersonic jet, Metal in My Head is more like that old Boeing 737 that’s still in service for shorter flights — it’s a no-frills, reliable way of getting you where you want to go, and it doesn’t wear out its welcome. Twelve albums in, and Wizard are still capable of producing a set of good songs, including a few genuine bangers. These guys are all about good times, and I know that by the sheer number of times that singer Sven D’Anna can be heard singing about raising beers and glasses. The first single for the album is the title track, and it only took until the second line of the first verse, when D’ Anna proclaims ‘my liver craves a tasty beer!’ for it to totally win me over. With a driving rhythm, the song riffs, licks, and pounds down the tracks while D’Anna unleashes some strained Sean Peck (Cage, Death Dealer, Denner/Shermann) wails.

As you probably already inferred from the title, the lyrics on Metal in My Head are beyond cheesy. I thought that this was going to prevent me from thoroughly enjoying the record, but the songs are generally strong enough to mitigate the issue. Take for example “Whirlewolf,” a ballad written by D’ Anna’s Feanor bandmate Gustavo Acosta in honor of the late Martjo Brongers (Steel Shock, Vortex). The track begins in utterly cringe-inducing Manowar ballad territory, but then a curious things happens. Each and every time I hear the track, the tide eventually turns and I find myself swaying imaginary lighters, guitars, and beer glasses above my head and proclaiming the lyrics aloud. “30 Years of Metal” is another cheddar bomb in the way it celebrates the band’s long existence, but it stomps with the unabashed glory of Dream Evil chasing dragones.

The master on Metal in My Head is exceedingly loud, leading to some sporadic moments of uncomfortable pumping when listening on headphones, but I doubt this is how most of Wizard’s fans will be listening to the record. D’ Anna puts in a working class vocal performance, and while there are moments where his battle-tested voice falls a bit flat, his authenticity ultimately carries the day. Guitarists Michael Maass and Tommy Hartung deserve credit for calling down lightning with their solos and leads while they lay down a thick layer of thunderous riffage. If you like the style, you can’t really go wrong with any of the songs here, but the title track, “Victory,” and “Destiny” all get my vote for album highlights.

Sure, there are a million albums of this style and quality out there, but if you claim the mantle of trveness, you should have a lot of fun with Metal in My Head. Recent events have made it seem as if humanity is on its last breath, but the uplifting anthems of Wizard have infused my soul’s lungs with fresh air. Now, if you’ll excuse me, my liver craves a tasty beer, so a quenching I must go.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Massacre Records
Websites: facebook.com/wizardmetal | wizard-official.bandcamp.com
Releases Worldwide: February 12th, 2021

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