Wizards of Kaos, (from left) Jim Barter, Ritche Perez, Karl Hawkins and Dan Moore are a St. John’s-based heavy metal/rock band, and have just released their debut full-length CD. — Submitted photo by Steve Power
“Socially-conscious Newfoundland metal,” “stoner rock,” “Sabbath on steroids” — no matter how reviewers describe them, Wizards of Kaos are the definition of a hard-rockin’, arse-kickin’ heavy metal band.
It was inevitable, really: it’s what happens when you take longtime local rockers like Dan Moore, Ritche Perez, Karl Hawkins and Jim Barter and put them together in a basement studio.
Started in 2009, Wizards was formed at a rare time when the guys weren’t playing in other bands and missed doing live gigs.
For Perez, it had been a while. One of the busiest members of the St. John’s hard-rock and grunge scenes of the ’90s, Perez is now an established graphic artist with a wife and two young daughters.
He had an itch, and you know what they say — you can take the dad out of heavy metal, but you can never take the heavy metal out of the dad.
“When I had kids, it was hard to balance, especially when they were younger. I wanted to focus on my family a lot, and that’s one of the reasons why I started the recording studio in my basement. If I wanted to get away from it all, I could just go downstairs and muck around with music rather than being in a band and going out and playing nighttimes every weekend,” he explained.
When Perez and the rest of the guys started jamming in said basement, which Perez has named Maghouse Studio, everything started coming together pretty quickly.
They began playing live shows here and there, and self-released an EP, “New World Mistress.”
They quickly realized that local music fans hadn’t forgotten them, and fans they had in previous band incarnations were coming out to Wizards shows.
“I think there’s always been a metal scene,” Perez said.
“We’ve only just really started playing, but we’ve been getting good support.”
Wizards of Kaos recorded a self-titled, full-length album — containing remixed versions of songs from the EP, and more — on Halifax-based Diminished Fifth Records earlier this spring, with a bigger, heavier and tighter sound than the previous recording.
Most of the record’s 13 songs were written by Moore, who fronts the band and has been around since the ’80s, playing in bands like sHeavy and Afterforever.
While there are themes of politics and social justice, there are also less serious undertones to the songwriting, Perez explained.
“All of us play video games, Playstation, and he likes to write about hardship or conflicts of trying to pass a level,” he said, laughing.
“It all relates to world issues as well; political stuff. He finds a way to put them together and make them understandable to our listeners.”
So far, the guys have earned only positive reviews, and comparisons to the likes of Black Sabbath and Soundgarden, with elements of rock bands like Led Zeppelin and Boston. There are edgy vocals and high-adrenaline riffs, as well as dreamy ’70s-style guitar licks.
Perez doesn’t deny the band members’ common influences, and said that’s the main reason why they work so well together.
“I grew up with a lot of ’80s hard rock hair metal bands and heavy metal, like Metallica, Megadeath and that genre,” he said.
“Similar to all the other guys in the band, we have influences with punk and metal and that’s how we all connect.”
Perez said the band is continuously writing, testing and recording new material, and they thrive on their live shows.
Last weekend, Wizards of Kaos opened for NAIL — an Ontario power-metal band featuring Rainer “Rhino” and Cindy Wiechmann, two Newfoundlanders who toured Canada in the ’80s with their band Kaos, and went on to become members of Helix for three years — at the Rock House in St. John’s, along with Category VI.
“They contacted us a few months back. I’d first spotted them on a Facebook group called History of Newfoundland Bands, and there’s a picture of them in front of the old Memorial Stadium, posing with guitars and amps,” Perez said.
“Apparently they went all-out with pyrotechnics and props and stage presence. It was pretty cool.”
Wizards of Kaos are continuously writing, testing and recording new tracks, and are looking forward to potentially taking part in a Atlantic Canada tour with other metal bands on the Diminished Fifth label. Even if they never get a chance to tour the world, they’re cool with it, Perez said.
“We’re not really taking this seriously — the whole point of this is we’re all musicians and we like playing guitars, drums and bass and we like to stick together and write and record music. We’ve got our dreams, but we’ve got our day jobs as well, and we’d be happy just writing music and recording it,” he explained.
“Sometime I think it could possibly be a mid-life crisis kicking in, but I’m enjoying it. I’m doing what I’ve wanted to do for a long time; an honest thing that I’ve liked doing since I started playing guitar.”
Wizards of Kaos will be holding an album release party tonight at Distortion, with special guests Category VI, Lunge and Old Hag. The record will be available for sale, as well as band merchandise and tickets on a 24-inch-by-36-inch album art canvas. Tickets are $5 at the door, and the show starts at 10 p.m.
Check out Wizards of Kaos online at www.myspace.com/wizardsofkaosmusic .