Wand – Golem
It wasn’t too long ago that the LA boys of Wand put out their debut album, Ganglion Reef. In fact, it was only August of last year that they first jumped on to the garage rock scene and started wowing audiences with their own take on the buzziest genre of the indiesphere. Now they’ve returned quickly with this sophomore release, moving to a more straightforward and all out rock approach than their first album, which adds to the overall energy of the music and creates for a loud and fun second effort.
Immediately on opening track “The Unexplored Map,” you can already hear the sonic differences that the band has made in the short time period of their first and second releases. There’s a newfound heaviness to those garage guitars, which put them more on the metal/grunge side of things versus the laid-back noise of those lighter sounding riffs found for the most part on Ganglion Reef. Of course there were signs of this band’s deeply rooted darkness on that first album; the dark approach isn’t out of nowhere. This first track lets you hear the change in pacing as well from Wand—the song sounds deeply grounded and involves a lot of stop and go percussion that points you again to the hardcore side of garage rock. Next up is “Self Hypnosis In Three Days,” a similarly loud and rambunctious number, but one that hedges on the psychedelic genre of rock. The vocals of Cory Hanson are all psychedelic, reverb drenched and wafting in and out of the ever-changing style of this song. One moment you have distorted guitars going hard, and then a little later the band cuts out to just vocals and some gentle strumming, giving you a reprieve of the hard trip before they launch right back in.
The sound gets changed up a little bit on “Reaper Invert,” which comes third up on the album and continue this into “Melted Rope.” The first of these two songs is on the edge the whole time, constantly threatening to switch from eerie to murderous at any second, but it doesn’t ever fully launch into the super hardcore sound that we’ve already encountered on the album, but lingers in the ominous zone. Don’t get me wrong, this song still brings the rock, but it’s more psychedelic than grunge. “Melted Rope” has this same psychedelic twist, but on a slower and calmer level. There are acoustic guitars on this tune, and the vocals take center stage, providing a softness that is unheard on the rest of the album.
But what Ganglion Reef had a little more of that Golem doesn’t is variety; yes, this album is more spirited and rocking this second time around, but in this transfer it sometimes feels like Wand has slightly lost a little bit of nuance in their music. This, however, may just be a matter of taste: if you’re inclined to like your garage rock on the more hardcore side, then Golem will surely win your heart.