Album Reviews

Wizard Tattoo: ‘Fables of the Damned’ Album Review

I’ve always been a sucker for a good concept album, so I always get excited when one pops up on my radar. Dedicated readers may remember me geeking out about Devil’s Witches’ In All Her Forms late last year—and then again during my top albums of 2022 write up.

That’s why I was so excited to see Wizard Tattoo back in business last month.

Wizard Tattoo originally hit the Monster Riff circuit when we featured “Wizard Knife Fight (At A Bar)” in our What We Love This Week section (I must have something for knife fights as well; Swan Valley Heights’ “My First Knife Fight” has been one of my most-listened to songs every year since I first hear it in 2019).

Wizard Tattoo, if you’re unaware, is a musical project telling the story of a man who gets a tattoo of a wizard and slowly loses his mind—a story that continues on Fables of the Damned.

Heavier and darker than the band’s precious work, Wizard Tattoo’s latest album, Fables of the Damned claims inspiration from the likes of Doom heroes Conan, Bongripper, and SubRosa; Classic Rock giants like Led Zeppelin and Mötley Crüe; and ’90s standouts Smashing Pumpkins, Alice in Chains, and Ministry—though, to honest, I had trouble picking out many of those bands individually throughout Fables of the Damned.

Regardless, this is an album of many influences, and because of that, the most impressive part of Fables of the Damned may simply be the fact that it successfully combines those ingredients into a successful Stoner Doom cocktail.

Let’s get into it.

About Wizard Tattoo

Believe it or not, Wizard Tattoo is a solo project performed by Bram the Bard, who also hand drew the super cool comic book/horror-inspired album cover:

Fables of the Damned Album Cover

Fables of the Damned was mixed and mastered at Garage Fire Recordings in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Fables of the Damned Album Review

Tracks: 7
Length: 39:56
Release Date: June 23, 2023
Label: Self-Released

Track 1: Wizard Van

“Wizard Van” is a groovy track in two part. After a crashing intro of drums, part one is an ethereal, mysterious movement that’s inspired as much by ’80s Rock and Metal (just listen to those thick basslines) as it is the horror movie genre (that lead guitar is unsettling in a nice way). Eventually, the music fades away around the four-minute mark and transitions into a beautiful melodic section that feels like an entirely separate introspective instrumental track.

Track 2: The Black Mountain Pass

Like “Wizard Van,” “The Black Mountain Pass” is a song with two distinct flavors. Flavor one is thick and vaguely Appalachian—like Karma to Burn (those deep, spoken vocals may even call to mind “Bobbi, Bobbi, Bobbi – I’m Not God”). This track is also where we begin to learn just how deep Bram the Bard’s voice can get; his gravely chest voice during the chorus is reminiscent of an old, chanted sea shanty.

Flavor two contains sleek and shimmering production marked by a flourishing lead guitar. It’s an exciting addition to the menu so far, and it’s fortunately not the last glimmer of genius we’ll see on this album.

Track 3. The Vengeful Thulsa Dan

There’s so much to say about “The Vengeful Thulsa Dan.” In terms of sound, imagine Doom vocals mixed with Industrial Metal and NWOHBM. And despite those heavy influences, the thick, menacing bassline is nearly playful in some sections—but that’s not even the most surprising part of the song. No, most surprising is the beautiful string section in the second half.

Track 4: Any Which Way But Tuned

“Any Which Way But Tuned” is an acoustic track featuring Bram’s deep vocals, which are layered here to impressive effect. Pay close attention—Bram’s voice can go low. When mixed with another violin, “Any Which Way But Tuned” becomes a brief reprieve from the heavy songs we’re listened to so far.

Track 5: The Ghost of Doctor Beast

If “Any Which Way But Tuned” was a break from the Metal in the first three tracks, it was also an opportunity to catch your breath before Track 5. “The Ghost of Doctor Beast” is the heaviest song on the album. Marked by those deliberate drums, a slow and menacing riff, and those gravely vocals, “The Ghost of Doctor Beast” is immediately unsettling. And as the song builds, the soundscapes become more and more haunting, especially as more voices enter the fray.

Track 6: God Damn This Wizard Tattoo

There’s so much happening in “God Damn This Wizard Tattoo,” it could very well become your favorite track on the album by the time it’s over. One part Pixies and one part Type O Negative, “God Damn This Wizard Tattoo” is as playful and upbeat as it is gothic and mysterious—and that combination delivers a few twists and turns before the song’s conclusion.

Track 7: Abendrote

A timeless instrumental, “Abendrote” may call to mind the likes of Jethro Tull—until the song breaks into its beautiful, soaring conclusion. And if it didn’t take so long reaching that conclusion, “Abendrote” could have been the best song on the album!

Final Thoughts On Wizard Tattoo’s Fables of the Damned

Standout Tracks: “Wizard Van,” “The Black Mountain Pass,” and “God Damn This Wizard Tattoo”

Pros: Fables of the Damned provides a smorgasbord of influences. This album is heavy and Progressive without losing an undercurrent of fun and excitement—and its twists and turns ensure there’s always a surprise around the corner.

Perhaps, then, what’s most impressive about Fables of the Damned is the simple fact that it’s not a flop. It’s not every day you hear a project inspired by the likes of both Bongripper and Mötley Crüe—and it’s even more shocking to find out the resulting album is damn catchy.

Cons: While the ideas are there, the feeling isn’t as cohesive—or as compelling—as one might hope. Yes, there’s a novel idea behind Wizard Tattoo, and there’s certainly nothing wrong within the story itself—but the lyrics are often difficult to understand, so much of the story relies on interpreting the song titles and the emotional quality within the instrumentation.

Reviewers like Clean and Sober Stoner (who we have tons of respect for) layered on the praise when the album first dropped, but I think the record could use another pass in its storytelling and songwriting. In addition, the multi-section songs don’t always feel as cohesive as you’d like, occasionally pulling you out of the story Bram’s worked so hard to pull us in.

Still, Fables of the Damned is a fun, complex record, and that ensures you’ll get at least a few solid and enjoyable listens before you move onto the next album.

Learn More About Wizard Tattoo

To learn more about Wizard Tattoo, check out the project on Bandcamp or social media (Facebook or Instagram).


  1. Hmmm. We could have a friendly debate! Really glad you picked this one up and decided to review it. While it’s certainly not an album of the year contender, I do think it’s the top 20, maybe even the top 10.

      1. I appreciate the feedback, and it gives me something to keep in mind when crafting the next album, which I’ve already started writing! Keep it coming.

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