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Planet Gemini : Wizards Blood

Formed in 1997, Planet Gemini is a duo composed of "H" aka Hellion and Josh, surely the two most doomed residents of the cool historic whaling city of New Bedford, Massachusetts. The group resides largely on the internet, and this is their seventh release, including their annual Cauldron of Fuzz series which comes out every Halloween. Everybody pisses and moans about the record industry and label woes, but Planet Gemini have done something about it. They've largely removed themselves from the money-go-round that fuels so much of the music industry's rip-off environment, choosing instead to offer their recordings up for free downloading, with whatever ancillary cash they earn going for new equipment. Because as we all know, taking other people's money - especially in the music industry - all too often means taking their crap. Planet Gemini have come as close as anyone ever has to creating a crap-free musical milieu, and everyone's the richer for it. This is tuneage for music addicts by music addicts, with the profit motive removed.

Make no mistake, Black Sabbath is the king of musical influence for these guys, and if you're not ready for a fine reinterpretation of that tradition, then read no further. After all, H learned to play guitar by mimicking a 'Sabbath video of the Never Say Die tour, filmed at the Hammersmith Odeon. A tour, btw, that I was privileged to witness in person, he said blowing nonchalantly on his knuckles. Ahem. Be that as it may, old school doom may be their principle influence, but discerning listeners may also pick out shades of 'Priest, Rainbow, Candlemass, Deep Purple and even Black Label Society. Notice anything about that list? Its mostly of European groups; no coincidence because PG. has a very European sound. How about the music? Not to put too fine a point on it, but this is the band's best effort yet. I was a big fan of the aggressive doom of 'Supergod[+]Devilman', an earlier effort about the conflict between good and evil, but 'Wizards Blood' trumps it. The recording is all analog - though the mastering is digital - and the instrument's sound definition is more natural because of it. The songwriting is first class: accessible even, with a good dose of groove at times. The whole effort is eminently listenable and memorable, making this record more appealing to more doom heads without in any way selling out or selling the passion short. There are abundant flashes of Ozzy-era 'Sabbath, including the later stuff, and do I hear a bit of Zakk in there as well? Hmmmmm... Repeated listens suggest that this may appeal to YOB enthusiasts as well, as Hellion's vocals occasionally ascend into Mike's realm of haunting spirituality. To be real honest about it, H's sometimes theatrical vocals, singing of integrity and truth betrayed, occasionally get a bit too screechy for me. But one man's screech is another man's treasure, and they may match your tastes perfectly. I'll leave that to you.

What's behind the group name? Well, it has nothing to do with astrological signs. The planet in question instead refers to a gateway, a portal for musical journeys. This is two men's reinterpretation of the 'Sabbath tradition, a successful result of learning from past musical experiments. The causatum is an up-to-date version of that classic sound, a regale of power, aggression, and intensity. This is a must for fans of riffing doom, so support these radical DIY'ers and visit their site for a taste. The first one's free, heh heh......

Reviewer's rating: Unrated


Tracklist :
1. Church of Madness
2. Devil You Seek
3. Death Comes Out
4. Flicker
5. The Haunting
6. Twist the Knife
7. As the Lazers Scream/Handful of Annihilation
8. Buried Alive
9, World of Shine
10. Blood
11. Wizards

Duration : Approx. 64 minutes.

Visit the Planet Gemini bandpage.

Reviewed on ??-??-???? by Kevin McHugh
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