HEALING MAGIC : VOLUME 1 : FIRE
Healing Magic, hailing from the dry desert heat of Arizona, is composed of vocalist/bassist/guitarist Igor Amadeus Cavalera (son of Max Cavalera) and drummer Johnny Valles. As they state, they take their influence from “the majesty of the mountains, mesas, and spirit of the Canyon State, imparting their music with a blazing desert vibe.” The music is a tightly knit mixed composition of “raw sludge, splicing fuzzed-out riffage, ritualistic rhythms, and colossal heaviness,” one that moves comfortably between metallic genres, styles, and motifs. Their first album, Volume 1: Fire, is the first in what Healing Magic calls an “epic saga.” So, with all that in mind, what exactly is Healing Magic doing with their first album?
Album opener “Mystic Desert” starts off with a sludgy take on classic 80s and 90s riffing, combining vocals that are reminiscent of Sepultura with highly melodic sludge. The influences of both classic New Orleans sludge such as Crowbar and Acid Bath and early death metal ring true, creating a sonic landscape that is dry, caustic, and brutal, much as the Arizona desert from which they hail. “Smoke Horns” continues the onslaught of sludgy riffage before seamlessly segueing into hardcore punk power chordage, punctuated by a painfully slow dirge from the midsection of the song that drags the listener into the quicksand. “Resting Beside Embers” begins with a disarming clean intro, one that brings to mind the eeriness of Emperor’s cleanest sections and the psychedelia of more modern doom. As the song progresses, Igor’s caustic vocals are the centerpiece, demonstrating why he is a force to be reckoned with as this band progresses. “A Guiding Flame (In a Dim Corridor)” contains some of their very best riffage, showing just how indebted this band is to Kirk Windstein and Crowbar in particular. “Wolf Coven” contains the DNA of early 90’s death metal chugginess with the melodic insight of sludge and doom - this is a standout track on the album, showcasing the magisterial chemistry between Cavalera and Valles as they bludgeon eardrums. “The Lion’s Throne” starts as one of the most psychedelic and dreamy songs on the album before changing into a chugging hammer to the face of sludgy death. “Solar Valley,” with its punk chords, demonstrates the breadth of influences for this band, giving the listener an insight into how these young musicians soaked up the bands they loved like a sponge. “Volcanic,” another psychedelic song, begins with some of the most eerie arpeggios in recent memory before bouncing back and forth between hammer to the face sludge and psychedelia. Finally, album closer “Leaving Ashes” is one of the most aggressive songs on the album, proving that Healing Magic not only considered the composition of their songs, but the composition of the album itself.
One of the things that differentiates Healing Magic from other bands in the heavy underground is their truly unique assemblage of diverse styles. Doom, sludge, blackened death, hardcore punk, and psychedelia merge together into a claustrophobic mixture of riffs and chords that threatens to choke the listener into submission. I envision certain complaints about this band that they might be imitating as opposed to creating, but this critique falls short in my estimation. Cavalera and Valles have created something unique here. The influence of the early 90s heavy underground - Sepultura and Crowbar being the most obvious influences to my ears - is apparent, yet tempered and forged like fine steel with psychedelia to create a sound that is fresh as opposed to simply imitative. Healing Magic’s saga of albums is one to watch out for - start with Volume 1: Fire, bludgeon yourself into submission, and start eagerly looking forward to the second volume.
Review by :Blake Carrera
HEALING MAGIC:Igor Amadeus Cavalera - vocals, bass, guitarJohnny Valles - drums
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