Wisdom is a Hungarian power metal band from Budapest. Formed in the fall of 2001, the group is known for its practice of basing each song on a well-known quotation. Many of the band's lyrics and all of the album covers center on the story of an old man, a cult figure called Wiseman.
The early days:
Around the millennium, bass player Mate Molnar and guitarist Gabor Kovacs often turned up to the same clubs and pubs due to mutual friends. Gabor at the time had a well-known band which had achieved a distinct success with their only demo. The demo itself was a favourite of Mate's and soon he was thinking of forming a heavy/power metal band. At mutual parties the issue frequently came up; Mate had an aim to form a band where some great musicians of the Hungarian underground era would play together. Gabor was always in favor of it and finally they agreed that when Mate found the right guys, they would launch!
After 1-2 years of searching they had found their "victims": Istvan Nachladal (Nahi) vocalist and former band member of Morpheus, then Balazs Hornyak drummer from the band Dynasty, Zsolt Galambos guitarist from Gabor's band, known as Legendary. Drafting the plans, Gabor had only one objection which was that he didn't want to mix his current band Legendary with the new formation so another guitarist was needed to replace Zsolt. The first meeting took place in October 2001; Mate, Gabor and Nahi sat in a pub at Moszkva Square to talk about the initial plans. They agreed on a few covers (Gamma Ray - Man On A Mission, Judas Priest - Night Crawler, Helloween - Eagle Fly Free), as well as a common objective.
Soon the first rehearsals started in the garage of Gabor's flat. In the beginning, Oliver Lukacs who was the guitarist in Mate's other band, helped them out though Gabor's band didn't show much signs of life. So Zsolt joined the yet unnamed and thus the band's first line-up was complete.
The name Wisdom:
They hadn't chosen a name by this time which is quite crucial to the life of most bands. They gathered ideas for weeks without results then soon Mate remembered a title of a 1986 movie where Emilio Estevez was the main protagonist named John Wisdom. Mate knew it was quite remarkable and thought that it could be perfect as a name of a rock band. Gabor immediately liked the idea and so there was only one thing left: to check if there was another band with the same name. After a little research it turned out that a German old school band had used this name prior although they had split up, and a rap band shared the name but because of the difference in styles there would be no interference. Consequently, Wisdom was born.
The first rehearsals began with practicing the covers and then Gabor came up with the first Wisdom song, later entitled Fate. Soon it was followed by the middle-tempo King of Death and then new ideas were continually forming. After a whole year of constant rehearsals and song writing the band was ready to introduce themselves to an audience. They were making a name with well-known Hungarian bands with their 3-track demo recorded at home when the band Kalapacs decided to take them out on tour as an opening act for the autumn shows. Almost exactly one year after their first meeting in the pub, Wisdom had their first concert in Miskolc. The initial gigs earned them a following; the audience was very enthusiastic and accepting of the new formation. At a gig while touring the capital city, which more prominent people in the Hungarian rock society had an opportunity to see Wisdom; among them was an individual who dealt with international acts and performances in Hungary. At the time, this individual was working on the 2003 Tour called Give Me Ed... 'Til I'm Dead Tour by Iron Maiden and subsequently helped Wisdom to secure a massive show. Everything went well for Wisdom, the management of Iron Maiden approved of their demo submitted and they were asked to open the gig for the star band in a stadium of 15.000(!) people. This was the first push for Wisdom and it was by fate that the current singer and drummer of Wisdom first saw the band here.
Wisdom EP, the birth of Wiseman and videos:
The chief editor of the largest motorbike magazine entitled Born To Be Wild selected the band for his long term support. Invitations came one by one, among them such options like warming up the stage for Saxon and being the guest act for the UDO-Doro tour. Another guest of the UDO-Doro tour was the Swedish/German band Dionysus and the leader of the band, Ronny Milianowicz who showed keen interest in Wisdom. He planned a joint project with Nahi and decided to manage Wisdom abroad, thus enabling a record company offer which would release the first Wisdom record. Wisdom decided to record their 7 songs in the studio of which 4 tracks were released in Hungary and the completed stuff was sent to record companies and concert organisers for promotional purposes.
Meanwhile the concept of Wisdom was starting to take shape. Mate wanted to build up a narrative world around the name, Wisdom, from the beginning based on examples of Iron Maiden's Eddie or Megadeth's Vic. As the single was being composed and things related - it soon took form of the band's vision. The whole picture was completed by the album artwork when Gyula Havancsak (Hjules), a graphic designer gave birth to Wiseman. He is depicted as the wise old man and as the mascot figure of the band. Soon a story was completed which is present on each record and illustrates each step of Wiseman's life.
They made a video for supporting the release of the track Strain of Madness which was filmed in the crypt of the famous Hungarian champagne-producer, in the Törley chapel February 2004. At the time metal videos were not of the norm thus a YouTube channel was to be launched and therefore the video was added to Wisdom's first record.
By the summer, the studio works and post-editing were completed and in July 2004 the 4-track single self-entitled Wisdom EP was released. The band was faithful to their name in all lyrics and accordingly put a little quotation from famous scientists, philosophers, and artists which briefly summarised the meaning of their songs. Wisdom have been doing the same on each record ever since. The record wasn't released in the traditional way. Instead it was attached as a CD to the Hungarian Metal Hammer (now known as HammerWorld). By this time Balazs Hornyak and the band had separated, he was replaced by Csaba Czebely. The first gig that Wisdom had the chance to play their released record was as an opening act of the legendary Europe. Great reviews and success accompanied the EP but the break abroad for Wisdom was still on the horizon. The success in Hungary resulted in many concert invitations and in the spring of 2005, Wisdom completed a tour with the band Ossian. The pressure was still high for the promised record which remained unfinished therefore the band members decided to make a new video from a track of the planned album until the record could be released. They selected the fully acoustic Unholy Ghost. It was filmed in a forest near to the Hungarian Formula 1 race-course, called Hungaroring. The magic and mood of the video had captured the audience and it was at this point that Wisdom had become a solid figure in the main acts of Hungary.
Keep Wiseman Alive:
The first independent gig was held on the 19th of November 2005 in a venue located in the Capital city, Budapest. This concert was called Keep Wiseman Alive, which meant as long as the audience showed up, Wiseman will be kept alive and therefore the band as well. Since this was a hometown show the members had more time to add greater visual details into their performance with special pyrotechnics. At first it was meant to be a one time gig, but ultimately evolved into the bands primary event, and has been held nearly every year since then. In 2006, Wiseman joined the band on stage for a few minutes during the title track of the Words Of Wisdom album. Seven years later, Wiseman joined the band once again on stage during the release show for the Marching For Liberty album.
First album, Eurovision, Parting ways:
The start of 2006 was marked with a special experience for the band as they were asked to play for a warm up act before their long-time idols, Helloween. This was followed by a tour. Also, the works on the first record had started and soon it was ensured that the album might be released in that year. Peter Kern has replaced Csaba Czebely and he took on the roll of drums for this record.
After long negotiations with record companies the record entitled Words of Wisdom was released under Hammer Records. Worthy for note that the mastering of the album was made in the famous Finnvox studios. Not long after this the Japanese Soundholic Record Company was also interested in Wisdom's material and licensed the record. So it was Wisdom who was the first Hungarian rock band to release a record in Asia. The album became highly successful and Wisdom had been nominated among 5 other competitors for the 2007 Eurovision festival. Due to the pop-orientated culture of the competing acts, there was no win for Wisdom but it was a huge push for the band. The next day after the award ceremony, the Kiscelli Museum allowed Wisdom access to shoot the video of the song Wisdom which is also the Ars Poetica for the band. Wiseman also makes an appearance in the video to solidify his place in the band. In the spring of 2007, Wisdom embarked on a tour for the promotion of their record. In the summer of that year, Wisdom was requested for the opening act of Heaven and Hell (Black Sabbath) thus following a significant number of requests to play at all the major Hungarian shows like Sziget Festival. As Wisdom's popularity grew, so did the tension between the band members. Nahi had difficulties with commitments and the pace of the schedule and they decided to part ways. The remaining band members did not know how to move on from the current situation. Mate refused to liken his band to that of a railway station especially with lead vocalists. Of course there are bands, like Iron Maiden which had success with their front man change but it was rare. The contracted gigs had to be performed, so they asked Zoltan Kiss to help them in the remaining concerts. During this tour they released a single titled At The Gates. After the release, Wisdom went silent in 2008, taking a break to decide the best options for their future.
The silence was broken by a gig as an opening act for Judas Priest. By this time Balazs Agota played the drums in the band due to Peter Kern having health problems which meant the end of his musical career. During the two years Wisdom was away from the public eye, the band members were actively writing songs and recording a new studio album even though the auditions to replace the vocalist were far from over.
In the spring of 2010 Gabor met Gabor Nagy (NG) at a party, the two were introduced to each other by a mutual friend. They realized that they had played in a concert together. NG with his former band played a show before Wisdom in 2007. NG also said that he would have liked to apply for the singer position in Wisdom, however long hair was a requirement and thus he didn't attend. The remaining part of the night was spent singing karaoke and after that, Gabor called NG to record a demo. It was followed with some more demo recordings and by the summer it was clear that Wisdom had found the right front man. The completed form of the new record was taking on shape, and the band had decided to film their fourth video to promote their new release. A fast song entitled "Live Forevermore" was chosen as it reflects the Hungarian histories. Wisdom chose the stone mines of Tárnok for the filming site. Coincidentally was the filming location for Hellboy 2.
In order to promote the new album, Wisdom went on to tour in the fall of 2010 where NG had hid behind a mask for all the gig appearances. There was a reason for this; Wisdom did not want people to be interested in their new vocalist until the new record had been released. Also at the time, NG's hair was not very long, which would have broken the uniformity of the band. This clever marketing tactic kept the audience guessing and resulted in a successful promotion. The "mask" tour and the new video release had brought about the winning results for the release of Judas in April 2011 on which Mats Levén (Therion, Malmsteen, At Vance) is singing in a song as a guest vocalist. Japan's Spinning Records and United State's CD InZane LLC consequently released Wisdom's Judas album.
A new video was ready by the fall for the lyrical song Heaven and Hell which was filmed in the picturesque castle of Dég, which once belonged to the old Hungarian noble family, This became the band's "most epic" video and has been well received by the audience.
In autumn the band shot a new video for one of their more lyrical tracks called Heaven and Hell. The shooting took place at the picturesque garden of the old noble Hungarian Festetics family's castle of Dég and its landscape. At this time the band celebrated its 10th anniversary with a tour they named X. Wise Years, which visited 10 of Hungary's largest towns, and the last being was the annual V. Keep Wiseman Alive concert in Budapest.
International opportunities, tours:
The year 2012 started with signing contracts and records deals. One of the biggest booking agencies, Rock the Nation scouted and signed the band and so did Noise Art Records. This meant that many opportunities opened up for the band in the international scene. The guitarist Zsolt could not handle the growth of the responsibilities and decided to part ways with the band. The new member to enter before the tour was Mate Bodor, who was finishing his bachelor degree at the Institute of Contemporary Music Performance in London.
In August the album Judas was released worldwide and as a promotion the band joined Sabaton on their Swedish Empire Tour. They had the chance to warm up the crowds for two months across Western Europe, which was followed by two weeks in the United Kingdom. In 2013 they toured together for another month across Eastern Europe. In the end, they had played a total of 58 shows in 38 countries with Sabaton and Eluveitie.
Marching For Liberty:
On the 27th of September, the band's third album was released titled Marching For Liberty. It was distributed internationally through NoiseArt records. The album has entered the official Hungarian Album Charts (Mahasz) at position 1. Fabio Lione (Rhapsody, Vision Divine, Kamelot, Angra) sang several parts in the title song. Immediately after the new release, the band started touring in Western-Europe alongside Powerwolf. On the 7th annual Keep Wiseman Alive show, Powerwolf performed as the guest of Wisdom.