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My opinion of this album has been a bit skewed. For one, I love the nasally vocals on Venus in Furs (almost even makes me think- a doom metal John Lennon...) as well as the high point Oborne hits on the song. And the harkening to Sabbath Bloody Sabbath that is present on Black Mass. The utterly blues-doom feel of Scorpio Curse.
The guitar is far mores distorted, and thus heavier, than had been on Witchcult Today. If this were released in the 1970s, it surely would've been perceived as being as Dopethrone or Come My Fanatics...! Yet despite this, El Wiz continues the problem of not being able to properly finish a song. What does 'properly' mean exactly? I cannot provide the definition. However, spending several minutes repeating the exact same riff and chanting the same line irks after only three songs in.
It compare it MUCHO favourably to Witchcult Today, which had been far too stoic for my tastes. Black Masses has flavor to it. Yes, it does grow stale when the same part of the same is churned out for two minutes nonstop until the end, but even then you tend to listen on. By the end of Crypt of Drugula, you are truly satisfied. This is doom metal and its finest.
So what do I have to say about Sabbathian Electric Wizard? Largely, it is still fully influencing the band now, but it has given way to the band's own unique style. I'm actually pleased to say that, especially by the '70s smash hit-40-years-too-late Turn Off Your Mind that Electric Wizard is now their own band. Lovecraft loving, vintage sounding, Sabbath influenced, but not Sabbath-ripoff Electric Wizard is here.
If you dare call yourself a fan of classic metal and do not own a copy of Black Masses, then get off your stoned behind and get to the nearest record store!!
Though I'm far from being new to the stoner/doom genre, I never seemed to give Electric Wizard much attention. I'd just heard a few of their songs from earlier albums and written them off as being overly hyped and too repetitive. It wasn't until a friend of mine, who has quite a good taste in metal overall, started obsessively listening to Black Masses that I decided to give them a second shot. And I don't regret it at all.
Basically, most of my reasons for liking BM can be summed up by the three adjectives in the title of this review. Sure, many stoner/doom bands feature a formula consisting of a heavy groove with the occasional doom riff... that's pretty much what Sleep masterfully does in their extremely influential Sleep's Holy Mountain, and, while it's not hard to hear that influence here – especially in the dramatic, high-pitched, distant-sounding, tripped out vocals –, EW's atmosphere is completely different. While Sleep, to focus on that example, has a more lighthearted sound, stoned to the point of a mystical experience, so to speak, EW is incredibly dark. To my ears, BM reminds me – obviously – of early, self-titled-era, Black Sabbath and maybe late, Die Healing-era, Saint Vitus (as well as previous EW releases, like Witchcult Today), which, of course, goes well with the themes of Satanism, nihilism, sadomasochism, apocalypse and drug-fueled paranoia that EW loves so much to explore. Only BM sounds also much noisier, to the point that even a track focused on a relatively simple rhythm like “Venus in Furs” seems quite rich; I think it's the combination of fuzzy, bassy, feedback-laden guitars – where melody creeps in only through constant and extremely psychedelic soloing – and what seems to be some quite busy drumming for doom metal, coupled with a production that makes it hard to pinpoint what exactly is going on there, other than things clinking and clanking the whole time. The noise effects and samples that appear from time to time, like in the middle of “Satyr IX” or “Turn Off Your Mind”, don't exactly help to make it any clearer, but do certainly add to its paranoid aura. To make a pretentious analogy, it's like creeping inside an ancient ruined building at midnight; you don't know where exactly you're stepping and there are these strange noises all around you that you have no idea where they're coming from. And you're also drugged off your mind to boot.
The experience, however, of actually listening to BM is, strangely, much more pleasant than this description. Beginning slow, with an intro noise that reminds me of early Cathedral (think the intro track from The Ethereal Mirror), then going into a galloping riff before the rhythm session barges in with full force, the title track begins the album already on a high note with some serious rocking grooves going on, as Mr. Oborn calls for Lucifer's help in a most catchy manner. “Venus in Furs” continues this trend bringing about some pounding doom that seems to have occasional moments of light amidst the darkness (pay close attention to the 2nd minute, it sounds... happy), before it all slows down a bit with “The Nightchild”. The following 4 tracks, then, alternate between picking the mood up with the more rocking riffs of “Patterns of Evil” and “Turn off your mind” (a song with a ridiculously catchy chorus) and utterly running over the listener with the morose doom behemoths “Satyr IX” and “Scorpio Curse”.
Now, this is where I start having problems with BM. “Scorpio Curse” has an awesome atmosphere, actually evocative of the apocalyptic imagery in its lyrics, and benefits from being the shortest doomier song, while “The Nightchild” and “Satyr IX” start off cool but get boring after a while due to repetition. You can listen to a single riff and slight variations on it, no matter how catchy they are, only a certain number of times in a song before it becomes a chore, and “The Nightchild”, for instance, reaches that point of saturation between the 5th and the 6th minute, when the song returns to the main riff, after switching into a different riff and a sweet bluesy solo, and then has nothing to do but run that riff into the ground for the remaining time. “Satyr IX” is also a good song up to the 6th minute mark, then it gets stuck on a riff that sounds interesting at first but quickly grows bland.
My last negative comment about BM concerns the final track, “Crypt of Drugula”, for being a purely ambient/noise song. It's cool when EW mixes that with their doom, but over 8 minutes of pure noise/ambient in an otherwise mostly riff-driven album is terribly unfitting, and just makes the album end sooner for me. Everything else in this album, however, is pretty sweet, and memorable riffs abound.
So the bottom line is: BM has 5 awesome songs, then 2 tracks that get boring due to repetition and only one throwaway track. A good album overall, I'd say, made even better by its quite unique mix of doom, noise and the darker side of stoner.
Originally published at http://christopherlatta.suite101.com/review-of-electric-wizards-black-masses-a311748
While they are not as influential as Trouble or Candlemass nor as commercially successful as The Sword, Electric Wizard has gathered a moderately sized following over the years thanks to a particularly fuzzy brand of doomy stoner metal.
If 2004's We Live and 2007's Witchcult Today proved that the band could still function after the original lineup's intense split, then you could say Black Masses establishes the band's newly found stability and efficiency.
It goes without saying that the sound on this album isn't too far removed from that of Witchcult Today. The band continues to use analogue recording technology in order to invoke the feeling of being a lost relic from the 1970s.
Yet, despite its similar recording techniques and overall aesthetics, this album manages to set itself apart from its predecessor thanks to a noticeably darker atmosphere. While the Wizard's output has always been a source of bad acid trips, this particular album has a rather nightmarish quality that the occasionally lighthearted Witchcult lacked.
This album also expands on the rock and psychedelia elements that were beginning to stand out on the previous album. Thus, this album is a little more driving than past efforts and may actually be one of their most accessible to date.
But despite this being the first effort to feature new bassist Tas Danazoglou, it's clear that the band hasn't moved away from their heavy guitar focus and probably never will. In addition to providing some powerfully slow riffs, the guitars also provide their usual feedback-driven textures to great effect.
The vocals on this album are also particularly noteworthy as vocalist/guitarist Jus Oborn seems to show even more development. He still doesn't have much of a range to speak of, but his wails fit in with the songwriting and even remind me of King Diamond at certain points.
All the people that loved the Jimi Hendrix-inspired Dunwich on the previous album should rejoice, for this album's songwriting is heavily based around mid-tempo rockers as opposed to the usual slow, drawn out numbers.
Of these tracks, the title track and Night Child are the strongest thanks to a combination of catchy riffs and memorable choruses. Also noteworthy are the Timothy Leary recollections of Turn Off Your Mind and Venus in Furs, a track that is not to be confused with the Velvet Underground song of the same name.
Of course, there are a few slower tracks left around as Satyr XI and Scorpio Curse feature lumbering tempos, drawn out instrumental segments, and riffs that are as memorable as they are trippy.
The album's instrumental closer, Crypt of Drugula, is also an intriguing listen for its more ambient tendencies. I was hoping more for a rocking return to the titular character, but this is an interesting addition that closes things out on a rather strange note. I might just need to listen to more ambient music...
All in all, this is another excellent Electric Wizard album that proves that Witchcult's success wasn't a fluke. If anything, this album may actually be even better as a whole due to its more consistent songwriting. Of course, they may never outdo The Satanic Rites of Drugula. That song is just awesome...
Black Masses, Night Child, Satyr XI, Turn Off Your Mind, and Scorpio Curse
Electric Wizard, a band known for being one of the pioneers of the ever growing stoner metal/rock genre, have released a new album last year through Rise Above Records. This sentence alone would make stoners whip out their bongs and Black Sabbath fanatics salivate with pleasure, but this album has been getting quite a bad rep amongst Electric Wizard fans...and I honestly can't see why.
One of the major complaints about this album is that Electric Wizard "changed their sound". Honestly, their is not much changed here. Sure, the band has taken a "faster" approach to their sound, though it never breaks thrash boundaries (in fact, it doesn't even come close). For some reason, people think that said "faster" approach decreases the heaviness of this album. Well, that's not the case here. The guitars are still crunchy, heavy, and drenched in unruly fuzz, courtesy of Jus Oborn and Liz Buckingham.
Not everything is increased in speed, though. Some tracks, like "The Nightchild", "Patterns of Evil", and "Satyr IX" are straightforward slow, painful doom, and are the definitive highlights of the album and will appeal to older fans of the band. "Satyr IX" is perhaps my favorite out of these three, highlighted by an incredibly slow, filthy riff that plods around like a massive elephant and is arguably one of Electric Wizard's heaviest songs.
Lyrically, Electric Wizard still promote their themes of Satan, nihilism, drugs, and the occult, best exemplified in the title track:
"Lucifer, I summon thee to my black mass,
I call upon you to complete my evil task.
My heart is black and my soul is dead,
Hear my words of hate give me strength."
"The Nightchild" is another goody with well-placed and disturbing noise, a great main riff, and somewhat cheesy yet effective lyrics. "Are you a nightchild? Join us and be free."
Perhaps my favorite "fast" track on the album is "Turn Off Your Mind", which has an incredibly catchy chorus, great and fuzzy riffing, and brilliant nihilistic LSD lyrics. At only 6 minutes, it's the shortest on the album, but is one of the more "fun" tracks on the album, at least by Electric Wizard's standards.
The final track, the instrumental "Crypt of Drugula", is quite possibly Electric Wizard's most experimental song to date. At 9 minutes, it merely consists of disturbing Khanate-esque noise, extreme distortion, and suspenseful tribal drumming. Though it is a tension-filled, thought-provoking piece, it is a bit anticlimactic and I'd mark it as the album's weakest with ease.
Perhaps the downside of this album are the vocals. They are good, but not up to Jus Oborn's angsty, painful vocals that we heard in "Come My Fanatics..." and "Dopethrone". Instead, on this album, Oborn treats us with some agonized wails which, while enjoyable like I said, can get incredibly whiny at times, especially on tracks like "Venus In Furs" where you just want to scream at your speakers, SHUT UP!
So, what do we have here? The answer is that we have a great album, and while it doesn't compare to other Electric Wizard masterpieces like "Dopethrone" and "We Live", it has still gotten an undeserved bad rep. If you're still not convinced, then "Satyr IX", "Patterns of Evil", and "The Nightchild" will most likely please diehard Wizard fans. Turn off your mind!
Standout Tracks: "Satyr IX", "The Nightchild", "Patterns of Evil", "Turn Off Your Mind".
This is my first Electric Wizard album, but rest assured it’s not my last. I heard the title track of this album awhile ago on the internet. I remember thinking, 'this shit is heavier then hell, I should look into this band.' That was at least a year ago, I guess I just never got around to it. Anyway, I saw the CD at my local record store, and suddenly that song started blaring in my mind. That made it impossible to ignore, throw in the fact that it was the limited digipack and it was only like 12 bucks, and I walked out of the store a happy man. Now enough of how I got the album, lets discuss it.
Of all the genres of metal that I've scoured through in search of good bands, doom metal was definitely the hardest. It seems that at least for me, that it is a hard genre to get right. Electric Wizard certainly gets it right. The production of this album is what I’d like to begin with. In a word, HEAVY. Really low, pulsing, riffs bellow out of the speakers thicker then the smoke coming out of your mouth. The same banging riffs are thickly distorted much like the world around you while you listen to it. The music is layered and dense allowing for the listener to pick it apart and examine each aspect of the sound, but at the same time the flow is so smooth that you can also just kick it on and headbang like an animal. Production is fucking brilliant on this album. No complaints there. Some may not favor the synthesized screechy vocals on songs like Venus in Furs and Turn Off Your Mind, but I love it, and feel it’s a nice contrast to the super deep guitar and bass tones.
Speaking of guitar, the riffs on this album are catchy, rocking, and heavy. Mostly slower catchy riffs that WILL get stuck in your head, but the occasional solo or haunting guitar bending like at the intro to The Nightchild add some diversity. Jus and Liz are an excellent pairing and they complement each other perfectly. At times mimicking each other’s riffs at other times contrasting each other. They always work symbiotically though. They are best working as a whole and they do the whole damn album. I adore the guitar work on this album.
The bass is not as astounding, but that is for the best. It is audible throughout the work which I like, but there are no moments it really does anything you wouldn’t expect. For this work, I feel that was for the best. Bass solos or breaks would have completely detracted from the way the album flows, which is what makes it so nice to listen too. Having said that, though expected, the bass work is great, and it provides the base (no pun intended) on which this album is built on. Without the bass, I wouldn’t be able to swing back and forth hypnotized from beginning to end. The drums fall into the same category as the bass. Nothing mind blowing, but still really good. There is a nice variation to the beats, so it doesn’t get monotonous.
That was all the good, now for the bad. Satyr IX and The Crypt of Drugula are both repetitive hypnotic jams. Issue being they aren’t so hypnotic by the seventh minute. For me, it is too much. They are both far too long for what they are. Crypt of Drugula should have been a like 3 minute outro, and Satyr IX would have been much better as like a 5 minute song. They are the break the aforementioned flow. I'm rocking and having a blast and suddenly I realize that I've been listening to the same riff for 9 minutes. It takes me out of my groove and I become bored instantly. The fact us if I want atmospheric doom metal, I'll listen to Triptykon. They just do it better. The tracks are worth a listen or two, and maybe again at times when you need help sleeping, but overall they are pretty worthless tracks. Satyr IX is really good for its first like 6 minutes but there was no need for it to go on any further.
Despite that, the majority of the album is really awesome, and those two tracks do not take away the overall appeal. The title track, Venus in Furs, The Nightchild, and Turn Off Your Mind get significant playtime for me. Scorpio Curse and Patterns of Evil are intermediate tracks; good, not great, and then there are the other two songs.... When all is said and done I love this album and I am hooked on the wizard. I am definitely getting more of their stuff and you will probably see more reviews in the future. Until then:
For blowing my mind with some heavy as fuck doom metal riffing, Electric Wizard's Black Masses gets an 85 out of 100, or a 4 out of 5.
Venus in Furs
Turn Off Your Mind
"Black Masses" marks the seventh time Electric Wizard cooked up a mean batch of grade-A weed and molded the classic doom metal pulse into obscure and ritualistic themes of drug-induced destruction from the ashes of psychedelic rock and intoxicated all-nighters. But I have to say, this band never fails to weird me out in the finest of ways. "Black Masses" sounds a trifle different than the usual upheavals summoned by Satan's favorite doomsters, but Electric Wizard is once again taking a hit from the roaring bong of eternal doom. The Brits are as distorted and honest as ever in their voyage into doom metal's wretched bowels, and the vibe echoing within the chambers of "Black Masses" is pure, natural Electric Wizard pounding the hammer of the gods on the anvil of doom.
We all know the Electric Wizard's spell at this point. Slow, asphyxiated riffs mechanically roll to the loyal beat of classic doom metal while reverberating distortion emits layers of static weight heaving between each and every booming note. The percussion beats are simple and sweet, and the bass clearly makes its mark in the ritual as it's placed right next to the shelling riffs. Outside influences of obscure rock bands from the 1960s and 70s pop in the Wizard's incantation every once in a while, although the gospel of doom is the band's first priority. This is pretty much the overall theme of "Black Masses," barring the occasional tempo shift or foreign touch floating in a pint-sized amount of the guitar work.
Although "Black Masses" isn't a large transition for Electric Wizard, it still has some mighty fine material that shows the English stoners in prime form. The first pair of tunes are gyrating rockers cycling Electric Wizard's signature moves with complete power and attitude, whereas the blistering "The Nightchild" is grim and beastly, yielding a skeleton-scaring riff of the evilest breed. "Turn off Your Mind" and "Scorpio Curse" again demonstrate Electric Wizard painting a self-portrait of the group's excellent identity through the massive guitar work and sinister atmosphere. I'm not exactly grabbed by the down-tempo plodding of "Satyr IX," but the grooving sequences deliriously roll on and on in an endless cycle of the same burning riff and pattern pounding again and again for what feels like an eternity of stoned psychosis; the overall result wins me over every time.
And then there's "Crypt of Drugula," which lasts for almost nine minutes and only provides dissonant chords and heavy feedback; an odd track, but it bizarrely matches the Electric Wizard agenda to an appropriate level. I've seen many claims that suggest "Black Masses" sounds like this or maybe that, but overall it's an Electric Wizard album, no frills or substitutes. I'll be the first to say "Black Masses" is not the group's best offering, but the record certainly adds another hit from doom's unholy hand and the rolling thunder of Electric Wizard. I’d say “Black Masses” would be a fitting place to start if you’ve never experienced the vibrations of the Electric Wizard, but then again, you really can’t go wrong with these guys to begin with.
This review was written for: www.Thrashpit.com
I found this album recently at my local record store for a reasonable price and got absorbed by the dark sound of this record. I decided to buy it and discover it further and in a profound way at home. After several spins, I try to talk about this first real doom metal record that I have ever bought with the exception of the early works of Black Sabbath.
"Black masses" is a perfect title for this record and it only slightly reminds of early Black Sabbath or Candlemass. I would cite Voivod's "Phobos" as a reference as this is also a noisy and dystopian record. There not many melodies or hooks to find but an absorbing atmosphere that would perfectly fit to an experimental horror movie. The riffs are heavier than steel, slower than a horde of zombies and the noises weirder than things that Iron Butterfly and others discovered in the late sixties with their psychedelic rock. But that's another good reference, as this album has an absorbing sound reminding of the sixties and seventies. In the booklet, the band sends its thanks to Serge Gainsbourg, Baader-Meinhoff and Marijuana and that's pretty much what it sounds like: experimental, weird and everything else than commercial. This record is neither catchy nor easy to digest.
This is the kind of album you can hate or adore. In a dark and rainy April night, you might adore the album's atmosphere while you mind just get headaches from the noisy sounds if you listen to it on a soft summer morning. You have to be in the mood to listen to it and it happens that you might listen to it and be stunned but not willing or able to listen to it again for another few weeks. This is an album for rare occasions.
The further the album goes the less addicting or appreciable it gets. The album asks a lot of perseverance and concentration. The first songs like "Black mass" are amongst the rather straight tracks that could please to fans of early doom metal. The last and longest tracks such as "Crypt of Drugula" are overlong noisy sound experiences without any structure in which you can get lost or be thrown out immediately. The album has a slow but continuous development from acceptable and structured songs towards very weird an unusual stuff in the ending that can almost be described as a concept. The album has a clear structure and is well sought. That doesn't mean that it is diversified or surprising as you clearly get delivered what you might expect when you just have a look at the cover artwork, the song titles and a few random songs and lyrics.
Before you decide to buy this album, just check out the first and last track of the album to get a good reference and to be sure to like it. It's difficult to give a certain rating to this record as it has interesting artistic intentions but is very annoying and somewhat hypnotizing as time goes by. The only thing that is clear is that this album sounds quite different from anything I have ever heard before and it gave me the taste to discover more doom metal or stoner rock stuff in a close future after I have digested this stuff. I will surely discover this record over and over again as it requests multiple spins and a very open minded attitude. I’m pretty much sure that I have bought a rare pearl and that this record will grow on me even if I still have a love-hate relationship towards it.
Finding a band that ages well is no easy task. Some don’t know when to quit, some sell out, and some rehash the same album over and over again while the quality diminishes each time. Fortunately Electric Wizard is none of the above.
On this one they’ve picked up the pace a bit. The riffs (while still heavy) seem a lot trippier, for lack of a better word. Songs like “Venus in Furs”, “Patterns of Evil”, and “Turn Off Your Mind” have a psych-rock edge to them and is probably a good introduction for those new to the band. The riffs focus more on grooves rather than sheer heaviness or building an atmosphere. The vocals are buried under a haze of echoes and effects yet they still retain their general tone. It isn’t quite like some of their earlier work where the vocals sound like they were run through the same amp as the guitar.
Though the Wizard has changed quite a bit throughout the years they are fortunately staying true their ultra heavy roots. Even though some songs may sound like slowed down psych-rock they also have some straightforward doom tracks on here; namely “The Nightchild”, “Scorpio Curse” and, the highlight of the album, “Satyr IX”. The aforementioned songs bring a good dose of heaviness to the album and remind us all that Jus and company are still capable of writing songs that will weigh you down, but “Satyr IX” is completely in a league of its own, not only is it the heaviest on the album but it builds up this tense atmosphere with its riffs, solos and other noise/effects that are going on in the background. I really wish this song was longer!
After the LSD homage “Turn off Your Mind” and the doomy “Scorpio Curse” the album closes with “Crypt of Drugula” a track with only drums and guitar feedback. Despite not having any riffs it’s actually a very good song and a good closer to the album. Drugula was mentioned on Witchcult Today and it will be interesting to see where the character goes.
Hopefully Electric Wizard are kind of careful with what they do. Though this album did have some heavy songs on it I hope they don’t go too much further away from them because they may lose the very thing that made me and many others love this band so much. When all is said and done it is a good album, but maybe it should have been just a little bit heavier.
Electric wizard use to be really good. In their prime they were amazing. This album leaves me scratching my head thinking what the hell happened to them? Gone are the bone crushing riffs with vocals to match that made songs like Dopethrone and Black Butterfly so great. Gone are the trippy stoner atmospheres of songs like Mountains of Mars. They almost seem like a band attempting to sound like Electric Wizard but not quite making it. This album is by no means awful to listen to, but for the most part it is uninteresting. I guess that is what happens when you keep making albums in the same style without mixing it up a bit and adding new influences.
The album starts off with black mass which is not at all a bad song. The heavy riffs are there and the vocals are very good too. Sounds like one of the less good songs on a classic Electric Wizard album. It has one of the catchiest choruses of any Electric Wizard songs. Part of what makes this song so good is there isn't an annoying noodling guitar solo played through the whole song, which unfortunately are featured on most of this album. On the next song, Venus in Furs, are some of the most god awful vocals I have ever heard. They are not as deep and very nasally. The first time I heard it they really made me cringe. The rhythm guitar is kind of generic but has its moments of greatness. The thing that really gets me is that there is constantly annoying little guitar solos that go nowhere.
Pretty much the rest of the songs on the album are like that. The voice isn't as bad on most of the other tracks, but it isn't exactly that good. The annoying little guitar solos plague this album. There are occasionally some good riffs played, but the lead guitar totally ruins it. The production seems kind of sloppy and doesn't really compare to old albums. It sounds really sloppy, and not in a good way. The last song, Crypt of Drugula is very different than the rest of the tracks. It is an almost nine minute long industrial/dark ambient song. The tribal drumming and atmospheric bass notes are really cool. But the drone just ruins it. If I wanted to hear a broken refrigerator I would turn off the metal album. It really is too bad because if it was taken out it would be a really great song.
While this wasn't horrible, it wasn't a particularly interesting listen either. Much of the album is filler. Don't waste your time with this one. They have done much better. You'll be much better off checking out some of their older releases.
And here you have it, folks, after the usual extended silence treatment, Electric Wizard comes pounding back to the scene like a huge Ent shaking the soil with every step. In this, their seventh full-length, they explore new sounds and reach new horizons but not without losing some weight. But we'll get on that later.
The first thing that strikes me as the first song starts is the change in sound. Electric Wizard's thick and abrasive sound has evolved a lot from Dopethrone up to Witchcult Today. Mainly, it has been getting more and more refined, perhaps more professional or simply cleaner. Well, forget about that stuff old bean because this album is as filthy as it gets. Everything from the guitars to the vocals (albeit to a lesser extent) are wrapped in a grizzly, staticesque aura of violent vibration and dissonance. The vocals themselves are grittier and more distant; they sound almost as desperate and buried as those in Dopethrone while still maintaining the controlled and slightly whiny sound of more recent albums. For this album, the band has adopted a decisively more psychedelic approach to ambiance, which results in spacey noises spread evenly across all songs in a way that reminds me very much of comrades Ufomammut. Perhaps they were hinting at their 2010 release, "Eve"?
So the album starts off in a rather upbeat tone, a song which is introduced with a plethora of feedback and a riff which could sit comfortable in Sabbath Bloody Sabbath. Headbanging ensues. In fact, most of the album is one huge invitation to a heartfelt headbanging ritual. But it's only when I notice half of the album has gone by when I realise this and notice the trend.
Electric Wizard has gotten less heavy and more jumpy.
Y'see, while their previous album, Witchcult Today, had some pretty heavy songs, like the sinister title track and the epic Saturnine, it also had jumpier, faster songs, mainly in the form of Dunwich. Now imagine an album by Electric Wizard consisting of six Dunwiches, one Saturnine and one Witchcult Today. That is and approximation of what is going on here. At first you might think "well, that's awesome", mainly because It Is, but it's their unique brand of heavy sludginess of glorious baked DOOM which has made Electric Wizard a favourite among stoner metal fans, including myself, and I can't help but feel a bit disappointed by the lack of dragging, ultradense riffage.
The first four songs illustrate this point perfectly, as song after song invites the listener to jump and spin in situ while exhaling the ceremonial smokes as if this were a Cathedral album and an exaggerated "AWRIIIITE" was just around the bend (surely I can't be the only one who likes to do this while listening to Cathedral?). This dancey rhythm is only interrupted with the arrival of the fifth song, Satyr IX, the heaviest song off the album and, quite frankly, one of the heaviest songs this band has ever composed. It almost, Almost makes up for the overwhelming lack of general heaviness of the whole album. As heavy as it is, it doesn't linger for long and it's over in less than ten minutes (that's a "short song" in the world of the Wizard). It's fantastically grim to say the least and represents a crowning moment of doomy greatness for the album and the band. After another fast(er) number, we've got the only other slow song of the album, "Scorpio Curse". It's not as overwhelming as Satyr IX, but it's still quite a number, the main riff is catchy as fuck.
The closer, "Crypt Of Drugula" is a long winded funeral procession of cacophonies, droning crunchy, stormy electric noises subjugated by minimalistic, tribal drumming and distant, bleak bass notes much in the vein of The Processean. The song and album concludes with the sounds of a debilitated heartbeat over a sound that I guess is vinyl popping.
Conclusion: Mostly sped up, filthier Wizard with a large side of Ufomammut.
Verdict: Quite good.