With the highly anticipated The Lord of the Rings prequel power rings ready to land on September 2, we’re ready to dive back into the world of elves, hobbits and wizards.
Oh yes, wizards. They’ve been a staple of the heavy metal canon since the very birth of the genre – the second track from Black Sabbath’s debut album is called The wizard, for the love of Gandalf! Since then, countless bands have written songs celebrating bearded guys in long hats and flowing dresses (and sometimes Harry Potter). So turn on your winds and prepare to be spellbound by the 11 best metal songs about wizards…
11. Overlorde – Sorcerer Ogre (2004)
An irresistible single from these New Jersey veterans who released an EP in 1987 and a surprisingly excellent debut album 17 years later. The 2004 LP proved that this cult quartet still had plenty of fun to offer, especially this howling rampage about a bloodthirsty wizard and his band of fighting ogres.
10. Uriah Heep – The Magician (1973)
Uriah Heep were an early metal band, reveling in their own old-fashioned ‘eaviness’ with their 1970 debut. However, their Wizard was a mystical ballad, practically a love song to the “wizard of a thousand kings”. Like the titular character of the Sabbath song of the same name, Heep’s wizard has a hippie guru whiff about him, stating “Everyone should be happy” and “know the joy of life and the peace that love can to bring”.
9. Legend – The Sorcerer’s Revenge (1979)
Early adopters of heavy metal’s umlaut, these short-lived Connecticut Vikings released an obnoxiously rare and quietly innovative LP of HM’s true cult epic before fading into obscurity. Only 500 copies were pressed and the album was never officially reissued, but Slough Feg then covered this heartbreaking thread about a wizard returning to overthrow the king after fifteen years of “mixing potions, sifting powders” and dabbling. “bloody torture experiments”.
8. Blind Guardian – The Sorcerer’s Crown (1988)
A thrilling blast of raw 80s sorcery, magician’s crown was actually a rewrite of the first song from the band’s 1985 debut demo, released under their former name Lucifer’s Heritage. Originally it was called Halloween, and was about vampires rather than wizards. The protagonist of this version plans to impersonate the wizard on Halloween (when else?), but his mind can’t hold such powerful secrets. Some say the wizard is Aleister Crowley, others think Sauron…
7. Megadeth – Five Magics (1990)
Megadeth and unborn Christian main man Dave Mustaine has one last shot at summoning occult sorcery on this key text of metal wizard lore. “Give me knowledge, all-knowing wizard, all-wise,” MegaDave implored — except on the re-recorded 2004 remaster, when he decided magic was more important. Any all-knowing, wise wizard would have advised him not to re-record it in the first place.
6. Emperor – I Am The Dark Wizards (1994)
There’s an aura of cryptic sorcery throughout Emperor’s legendary debut, most explicitly in the jaw-dropping grammar of this grand proclamation. “My wizards are many, but their essence is mine,” shouts Ishahn, with words from Mortiis. Both men were barely 18, so they can be forgiven for bragging about it.
5. Municipal Waste – The Mountain Helper (2003)
No joke from Virginia crossover thrashers Municipal Waste, who take just over a minute to present the story of a misanthropic wizard casting a spell of destruction on the human race. Earthquakes, lightning and fire rain down with a wave from his staff, and he smiles as he counts the bodies; “Beware the fucking wizard” is the take-home advice from this one.
4. Rhapsody – The Sorcerer’s Dream Magic (2004)
The Italian masters of baroque symphonic fantasy brought Christopher Lee into metal with this song, making the legendary actor the narrator of the Witch King on four albums and inviting him to return to sing on the 2005 single – including the French, German and Italian versions. The experience so excited the great man that he started his own symphonic metal project at the age of 88.
3. Reverend Bizarre – Fucking Sorcerer (2005)
We find Reverend Bizarre’s Albert Witchfinder at his peak on this doom doom sabbatical by the much-missed Finns, declaring himself “the wizard of carnal lust” and exhaustively extracting humorous juxtapositions between the worlds of coal and sorcery with lines like “With my magic I cast out your demon, Divining Rod and Blessed Semen (whoa!)”, “I’ll build my church in your flesh” and, of course, “Darkness is falling, penetrating my balls”.
2. Electric Wizard – Wizard in Black (1997)
The classic “drugs, sex, all kinds of dirt” sample from The Living Dead at Manchester Mortuary has little to do with sorcery, but it does usher in a tale of cosmic horror about a megalomaniac wizard of unimaginable power. Not content with simply realigning fate, he summons “the eye of the ultra soul” whereupon “the rays of freedom awaken the chosen”. But what happened next? Looks like the Wizard in Black deserves a sequel…
1. Black Sabbath – The Magician (1970)
Metal’s fascination with sorcery dates back to its adoption anniversary, Friday, February 13, 1970, the day Black Sabbath’s debut album was released. Right after Satan comes around the bend, the titular enchanter appears out of the mist, but his magic is more benign than many later heavy metal wizards. With his “funny clothes” and “ringing bell”, it’s no wonder “everyone is happy when the wizard passes by”.