Wand's debut album Ganglion Reef was an impressive neo-psych statement that weaved together various elements like folky guitar sounds, tricky arrangements, duel guitar wanderings, and, above all, hooky pop melodies into an entrancing whole. Their second record, 2015's Golem, cuts out anything folky, paves over some of the fragile psych weirdness, and instead piles on the heavy, heavy noise, stomping into protoplasmic Black Sabbath territory at times. Tracks like the pummeling "Self Hypnosis in 3 Days" and the heavily phased "Cave In" sound like they were lifted directly from the set of a band that might have opened for Sabbath in 1970. "Planet Golem," too, delves deeply into some dirge metal, with weird synths and riffs brutal enough to knock out a stegosaurus. There are still a few moments when Cory Hanson and Daniel Martens click off their fuzz pedals and the band heads back to the dreamier territory of its debut ("Reaper Invert" and the almost tender "Melted Rope"), and the album-ending "The Drift" switches gears entirely for a bit of near ambient, totally oceanic metal balladry, but really this album is about nightmarish power, not Technicolor dreams. In the hands of a less talented band, it could have ended up as a real mess, a total disappointment. Luckily, even though they have changed up their approach, the guys in Wand didn't lose their ability to craft songs with huge hooks. Now they are thunderous and ugly hooks instead of weird psychedelic ones, but it works just as well. Their new sound might scare off some of the psych lovers who dug their debut, but for anyone looking for some weird heavy rock noise, Golem fits the bill.
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AllMusic Review by Tim Sendra