Titular Homogeneity – The Wizard

Titular Homogeneity is all about tracing themes through Heavy Metal via their simplest index: song titles. So far epithetical anger, The Devil’s Holiday, and Prince Prospero’s folly have been examined. This time the focus is on one of heavy music’s earliest and most enduring images, that of The Wizard.

Uriah Heep’s Demons and Wizards was one of the first heavy albums I listened to intently. I used to spin my mom’s vinyl over and over, losing myself in that wonderful Roger Dean cover art (I like to think Mom completely missed the ‘hidden’ erotic imagery), imagining myself to be the mysterious moth-winged character in the foreground. “Easy Livin'” was the album’s rockin’ centerpiece, but it’s opener, “The Wizard,” really captured the mysticism of the artwork. It’s a brief song and not particularly heavy, as heavy goes, but man is it full of magic.

“The Wizard” was probably the first time I realized that power isn’t necessarily synonymous with brute strength. The lyrics, simple and elegant, tell of the power found in peace and freedom from fear. Captured poignantly in The Wizard’s refrain, Why don’t we listen to the voices in our hearts?, the message, in part, is that there is great courage in doing good and right by others. Though I fall a good sight short of living up to the calling, I still take a measure of pride in aspiring to it. I wonder if Ken Hensley has any sense of the very real impact he made with those words…

This was also about the time I realized that heavy music embraced a few consistent themes other than sex and drugs. I picked up Black Sabbath not too long after Demons and Wizards to find that they too had a story to tell about a wizard. Sabbath’s magic man sounded a whole lot more frightening than Heep’s, but he too was all about making people happy. He just walks around spreading his magic and the sun shines, clouds dissipate, and he leaves people feeling fine… okay, wait, so maybe heavy music’s thematic content is that simply consistent.

A little more growing up shed light on the simple but important notion that wizards not only didn’t have to wear pointy hats with moons and stars, they also didn’t have to be good. And although the bad boys of black magic pretty much took a dump on the smiley faces conjured by the magi I first knew, it was okay because they were fucking cool.

Tales of these dark artisans, as spun through heavy music, were the reason I made time to build wizard characters for D&D, even after football practice. And why I always played wizards in games like Gauntlet and Baldur’s Gate. All these years on, I still resonate to the infinite power-wielding wizards more than the burly badassitude of fiction’s more popular chiseled champions. And as I still feel the joy of imagining those magic missiles firing from my own fingertips, it’s heavy metal playing the soundtrack. Simply put, Magic and Metal are forged from the same fire.

So check out (or revisit) Heep and Sabbath below and then traverse time to find a couple other more contemporary depictions of the mystic mage. Split Heaven is a trad/speed troupe out of Mexico that’s been plying their trade in obscurity for most of the decade, but that are poised to make a good run if they can find a sliver of spotlight. Yngwie offers a decidedly darker take on the sorcerer’s tale while weaving abras and cadabras all up and down the fretboard. And Human Fortress’ sorcerer embraces the darkness with modern epic, symphonic metal, only to find himself overcome by it.

 

URIAH HEEP

[FROM DEMONS & WIZARDS, MERCURY, 1972]

He was the wizard of a thousand kings
and I chanced to meet him one night wandering.
He told me tales and he drank my wine.
Me and my magic man kinda feeling fine.

He had a cloak of gold and eyes of fire.
And as he spoke I felt a deep desire
to free the world of its fear and pain
and help the people to feel free again.

Why don’t we listen to the voices in our hearts?
Cause then I know we’ll find we’re not so far apart.
Everybody’s got to be happy, everyone should see.
For we know the joy of life and peace that love can bring.

So spoke the wizard in his mountain home.
The vision of his wisdom means we’ll never be alone.
And I will dream of my magic night
and the million silver stars that guide me with their light.

 

BLACK SABBATH

[FROM BLACK SABBATH, VERTIGO RECORDS, 1970]

Misty morning, clouds in the sky
Without warning, the wizard walks by
Casting his shadow, weaving his spell
Funny clothes, tinkling bell

Never talking
Just keeps walking
Spreading his magic

Evil power disappears
Demons worry when the wizard is near
He turns tears into joy
Everyone’s happy when the wizard walks by

Never talking
Just keeps walking
Spreading his magic

Sun is shining, clouds have gone by
All the people give a happy sigh
He has passed by, giving his sign
Left all the people feeling so fine

Never talking
Just keeps walking
Spreading his magic

 

SPLIT HEAVEN

[FROM PSYCHO SAMURAI, BLOWER RECORDS, 2008]

Fragile is the candor
it turns into a lie, easy to carry
but hard to realize.

Over the years some certainties appear
leaving wounds that never heal.

People watch me with disdain,
Whispering my name!
Emptiness takes over them.
I’m the wizard!

How many tears do we have to cry?
A lot of time has passed
and we don’t stop at last!

Now that they can hear me,
you should know
I’m the law in this badlands.

People watch me with disdain.
Whispering my name!
Emptiness takes over them.
I’m the wizard!

Over the years some certainties appear,
leaving wounds that never heal

 

YNGWIE MALMSTEEN

[FROM WAR TO END ALL WARS, SPITFIRE RECORDS, 2000]

Climb up the mountain
That reaches the sky
Up there’s a tower
A thousand miles high
There you must tress pass
Escaping his knights

In there dwells the wizard
His breath like a blizzard
Ancient incantation
Evil revelations
For thousands of years
They have been searching for him high and low
The wizard is here only to disappear
He hides from the world

In through the dungeons
Weapons are drawn
Passage in hiding
Dead before dawn
Master of witchcraft
Friend of the beast
Wisdom through tempest from the east

In there dwells the wizard
His face like a lizard
Ancient incantations
Evil revelations
For thousands of years
They have been searching for him high and low
The wizard is here only to bring you fear
He hides from the world

For thousands of years
They have been searching for him high and low
The wizard is here only to bring you fear
He hides from the world

The wizard.

 

HUMAN FORTRESS

[FROM ETERNAL EMPIRE, MASSACRE RECORDS, 2008]

My lord save me
Thy son, thy blood
With evil thoughts in mind
So dark, so black
A fallen one

(oh black wizard)
Oh wizard in your hollow
Repent your sins
And beg for our grace
Pray, pray
Wizard in your hollow
Repent your sins
Or never leave this place

Hear my warning or you will die
Don’t turn away, reveal the masterplan – now!

Confess, reveal
We bless, we heal
Change your fate
Before it’s too late

What happened to me, what have I become?
A black shadow’s son, a darkness in me
But there’s no way back and soon I will be free

Lord give me strength
For heart and Soul
With hatred in my eyes
So cold, so cruel
I’m the one

Black wizard in your hollow
Repent your sins
And beg for our grace
Pray, pray
Wizard in your hollow
Repent your sins
Or never leave this place

Hear my warning or you will die
Don’t turn away, reveal the masterplan – now!

Confess, reveal
We bless, we heal
Change your fate
Before it’s too late

What happened to me, what have I become?
A black shadow’s son, a darkness in me
But there’s no way back and soon I will be free

There will be no grace(oh wizard in your hollow)
You’ll never leave this place(oh wizard in your hollow)
There will be no grace(oh wizard in your hollow)
Never leave this place – now you die

Black wizard in your hollow
Repent your sins
And beg for our grace
Pray, pray
Wizard in your hollow
Repent your sins
Or never leave this place

Posted by Lone Watie

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