Consisting entirely of musicians from the eccentric Demon Bitch with equally esoteric pseudonyms, Detroit’s White Magician settles firmly into the world of heavy Occult Rock on their first full-length album. “The Agents Of Fortune”-esque cover art is enough to indicate that any comparisons to Blue Öyster Cult are likely intentional; the band exercises a similarly freerolling attitude with an ominous undercurrent. But while Dealers Of Divinity (Cruz Del Sur Music) gambles on a well-trod formula, the group seems to have a couple of aces up their sleeves.
In contrast to the catchier approach that is usually favored by similarly styled bands, White Magician goes all out in a more convoluted presentation. The guitars are the primary driving force, putting in a constant mix of harmonies and trade-offs supported by driving gallops. This is reflected further in the songs themselves, which consist of structures that are as labyrinthine as their eight-minute average lengths would suggest. This may be BOC worship material, but it pulls more inspiration from songs like ‘7 Screaming Diz-Busters’ than ‘(Don’t Fear) The Reaper.’
This method can make the elaborate musings on songs like ‘Magia Nostra’ and ‘Spectre Of A Dying Flame’ easy to get lost in but thankfully allows for plenty of quality moments. The title track sets the album’s upbeat precedent right off the bat while putting some abstraction in the back half. Elsewhere, the unusually titled ‘Mad Magic II: In The Absence Of Gods (Bad Magic)’ and ‘Power Of The Stone’ show glimpses of the band’s more accessible side. The exclusive acoustic instrumentation on ‘Fading Into The Obscurity Of Ages’ halts the momentum but still makes for a rather intriguing outlier.
As much as I tend to prefer my Seventies Rock homages with extra hooks, it’s cool to see White Magician offer a more unique perspective with Dealers Of Divinity. The complexities can make for a tricky listen, but the musicians have enough technical prowess to meet the challenge and the songwriting carries a certain enthusiasm that suits the aesthetic. It’s an interesting jump from the rawer style seen on 2016’s The Pledge EP and one can imagine it getting tighter with time. It doesn’t quite have the same impact as Freeways or Wytch Hazel, but it’s an incredibly satisfying treat for fans of that BOC meets Thin Lizzy and Uriah Heep style.
Purchase the album here: https://whitemagicianmi.bandcamp.com/album/dealers-of-divinity
8 / 10