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What a difference two years can make ... Between their self-titled debut and this follow-up, Electric Wizard beefed up and distorted their sound and polished their song-writing and the result has taken them light years beyond what the first album achieved. For this reason alone, anyone interested in the band's history and how a young group can progress in leaps and bounds, these two albums are worth seeking out and hearing. The most obvious improvement in the band's style is the overall sound: thick and grimy textures in slower-than-slow guitar chords and riffs, accompanied by basic drum rhythms and a washed-out wailing vocal singing lyrics of despair at the present world and conjuring avenues of escape from the social and political oppression in our society.
We dive straight into the deep end with "Return Trip", a crusty doom sludge song if ever there was one, with black grime peeling off riffs to expose a raw layer that quickly changes to hard and dark and bleeds off in turn. The song sticks to the straight and narrow: even an extended instrumental passage doesn't attract a wiggly guitar solo, and it's only towards the end the song acquires layers of melody and riffing to suggest the vocalist's increasing mental derangement. Jus Oborn's singing isn't great - it's more like chanting or shouting sometimes - but his voice has a rough, anguished edge suited to the lyrical content. Real life is cold, hard, tyrannical, unjust and abusive and for many people the only way to stay sane is to escape into one's own world through the portal of hallucinogenic drugs. "Wizard in Black" and "Doom-Mantia" take up where "Return Trip" leaves off: these are epic tracks that extend the sludge / stoner doom trip out further into the realms of psychedelia, the latter track featuring treated vocals and multi-tracked voices (or so they sound).
"Ivixor B / Phase Inducer" is a wonderfully trippy mindfuck of a piece featuring a seemingly endless loop of female chanting with bubbly guitar effects and lazy bass rhythm followed by an abstract spacey tone piece that probably fell from an old pre-Autobahn Kraftwerk album and needed a home, so why not here. The atmosphere is spooky without appearing sinister. The two separate passages of the track are combined in a way that suggests a breakdown in a spaceship's communications with Earth while the astronauts are overcome by strange cosmic forces that can't be understood by rational people. Very original and quite ingenious!
The remaining tracks on the album suffer for being footnotes to the instrumental track and the strong first half of the album. "Son of Nothing" is hardcore melodic rock with metal trimmings in style and its post-apocalyptic / sci-fi lyrics embody both hope and fear as the remnants of humanity flee a scorched Earth to find a new home. "Solarian 13" brings up the rear with a mix of gently buoyant and seesawing grime-thickened guitar rhythms around which trippy ambient effects swirl and tease.
The album draws its strength from a more streamlined musical approach in which music serves to enhance each song and its subject rather than fill out empty spaces with frills or show off individual musicians' dexterity and master of their instruments; and also from powerful lyrical themes of alienation, global destruction and flight to new worlds whether internally in one's head as a form of escape or externally for survival. Fantasy, the apocalypse and its aftermath, and science fiction elements of space travel through drugs and spaceships, and human migration to new worlds combine with doom, stoner and sludge metal to generate an original piece of work in "Come My Fanatics ...". It's on this album that EW find their calling.
Electric Wizard are best known for their hour-long work of slurring, muddy guitars and angsty distorted vocals on Dopethrone, so their second album that came just before it, Come My Fanatics, is often swept under the rug and given little of the attention it deserves. I admit that I first turned to Dopethrone like everyone else upon hearing of Electric Wizard. Later, when I was impressed and wanted more, I sorted through their discography, looking for other albums by the band that people talked about. I was drawn to Come my Fanatics purely on an aesthetic basis--the amazing cover art. The cover art that so well suggests the ethereal spacey doom sound that is Come My Fanatics. After hearing the album a few times online, I bought it on vinyl and now I have it here to review.
I feel this album's strongest points come from the sheer force of the sound. Guitars that drone with the brick-breaking power of Sunn O))) amps, drudging on to create slo-mo riffs along the lines of classic Black Sabbath. Entire landscapes are shifted and created with the space that the guitars create for the listener, evoking images of deep chasms and infinite stretches of outer space. At the same time, the band's evident tongue-in-cheek lyricism and sense of melody that supplies the listener not only with dense antmosphere, but a bunch of catchy slow-burn headbanging sections. The opener riff of the first song (after the initial drone of the first note wears down) is just great. The riff is bizarre, twisty and unordinary, and even though it's repeated a lot it doesn't get old--it just puts you further and further under the purple smoke spell of the record. The riffs change and shift at perfect moments, altering tempos, providing the listener with a lot to prevent them from getting bored. The vocals come in after about three minutes of the first track (Return Trip) and a wicked guitar solo. I wasn't sure what to think of them at first. It is plain that the vocalist of Electric Wizard, at least at this point in their career, cannot sing. Not at all. But it's hard to explain--despite almost no display of talent other than the enthusiasm of emotion in his voice and the super-angsty lyrics, his voice really fits the music. Once I got over the confusion of the amateur singer and heard the album a few times, I started to love his voice. It just rides the tide of those pummeling doom riffs so well. His voice is basically just a series of yells that are trying to resemble singing (I come close to comparing him to the Ozzy Osbourne of the early 70s).
The six tracks on this album vary from each other a lot in length and tone. There are the more hard to swallow epic-length tracks featuring long breaks in vocals such as the first song, then there are two more standard-structure chorus/verse songs like Wizard in Black or Son of Nothing. Even with the more catchier songs like those, the heavy atmosphere is never broken or tampered with beyond the band's vision of thick doom metal. Ivixor B/Phase Inducer is a phenomenal trippy void-like istrumental of echoing alien keyboard-derived vocals and blips and boops of deep space computers, the perfect soundtrack for Space Odyssey, and the perfect track for people who fetishize minimalist creepiness. The echoing vocals of Doom-Mantia are sure to play with your head, especially if you're listening to this on surround-sound speakers. The guitar solos of Wizard in Black add so much dimension to the track, as do the winding, turning solos of the other songs. Solarian 13 is another instrumental, this time highly rythm-driven, and is the perfect slurring ending to a great album.
As it stands right now, Come My Fanatics is my favourite doom/sludge metal album. If you have not heard it yet, LISTEN TO IT. It utilizes dark atmosphere far better than the band's latter works (yes, it even trumps Dopethrone in terms of atmosphere, although it is a close match). The atmosphere of the album takes you on a real trip through dark fields of guitar riffing and slow, steady rythm work. It does everything doom metal should do.
Originally Written for http://www.spirit-of-metal.com/
Before one begins reading this review and understanding the music referred to, the reader must understand two things.
1. Electric Wizard are not from Earth. They smoke their weed in Space, above all and observing all. They are omnipresent, as well as omniscient. They are the heaviest band in the universe.
2. Listening to their music may result in [but is not limited to] psychedelic experiences/effects, sudden intense urges to turn up the volume, deranged thinking, one's perception of time being literally "thrown off", and/or spacing out. Electric Wizard's music will essentially make a mortal human have the sensation of "tripping out" [LSD, Shrooms, DMT, etc] while listening in. This second point can be said especially about their album "Come My Fanatics..."
"CMF..." is not only my favorite album by Electric Wizard, but I consider it the cornerstone of all that is heavy. It is not only heavy in the consistency of heavy metal; its sound cannot be described in mere words. Imagine your ear drums being pummeled with bongrips of steel. Acid blotters from space ripping literal holes in your brain. Your mind literally being blown by how musically precise this group of trippers are when they play & record. If "Return Trip" doesn't get you right from the getgo, turn off the album. No seriously, turn it off. This shit isn't for you. Your spirit just isn't powerful enough to handle the next two tracks. ESPECIALLY if you got scared by that climatic riff at the end [6:28-end]. "Wizard in Black" will turn your brain inside out, make you look inside up and backwards at it, stuff it back inside your skull and sew your head closed. Oh, and they left you some amazing Indica from Saturn, it's over on the living room table.
"The wizard in black reveals the sign
The chosen are ready
Eye of ultra soul
Together we join
Once again - into the void*!"
*Note the Sabbath reference
You see now, that their sound can't just be described as heavy. It is thick, thick as a heavy fog, and as you wander through this heavy sound, Jus Oborn shouts at you through the distance, calling out to you, leading the way to his portal of darkness to the depths of space. Enter Tim Bagshaw, and "Doom-Mantia." His groovy bass lines almost put you into a hypnotic trance as the guitar and drums bounce along. Surely, your mind must be breaking at this point. "How can a band be so heavy," you say. "How can this exist?" For the answer to this and more, please refer to the first intro point in this review.
"Ivixor B/Phase Inducer" is a two minute jam track and then essentially sounds and odd fucking around with amplifiers, but its interesting to say the least. Think Sabbath's "FX" but much, much longer, and not just simple sound effects. These are echoing from the tunnels of Bongopolis. Heavy bong rips can be heard in the background [or is that just my own head?]
The album peaks at "Son of Nothing". Mark Greening is about to blow your mind. The intro/main riff of this song will literally rip through your mind like a chainsaw. I still to this day will never be able to fathom how Jus Oborn can keep this band alive and functioning, let alone make a listenable record [though I can't say I enjoyed Black Mass.] The whooping sound is not just in your head.
[whoop whoop whoop]
WE'LL TAKE YOU
TO THE SON OF NOTHINGNESS
[whoop whoop whoop]
Yeah, it's a little irritating but it flows well with the song. I actually enjoy that noise. Makes my head feel like its expanding. "Solarian 13" is another prime example of Tim Bagshaw's heavy bass riffing coupled with immense guitar flowing in and around it. The drums just flow on this album, as if they were timed perfectly, just right. The two bonus tracks, "Demon Lung" and "Return to the Son of Nothingness" are worth paying the extra 2-4 bucks, even if the latter is just a rehash of "Son of Nothingness." Electric Wizard proved themselves on this record. Ridiculous amounts of doom & gloom, mind shattering riffs and immense power from within the soul.
You know, it's about time I did this.
"In one of the countless billions of galaxies in the universe lies a medium-sized star. And one of its' satellites, a green and insignificant planet, is now dead."
It comes in like a lion and goes out like a demon. This is Come My Fanatics.... Some argue that it's the heaviest album of the '90s, and I even agree. Electric Wizard is a weird band in that they are among the heaviest bands in the world, and they don't use double bass pedals or guttural vocals (anymore, if you don't count the Pre-Electric Wizard band, Thy Grief Eternal) but actually sound like Black Sabbath. Run that through your head for but a second, and, after a few more beyond that, it winds up nearly shocking you to death.
Just like Come My Fanatics.... The riffs are utterly explosive, Sabbath-stolen, and there is little vocal talent beyond stoned screaming. If you're an angsty 14 year old who's tired of being called emo and tired of random grindcore, then this album is for you. It will open you up to the world of sludge doom, just as Return Trip opens up this acid trip of unholy proportions.
May I add that Return Trip may be worthy of its name- some parts harken back to the first album, Electric Wizard. Nevertheless, it's a fine opener, and sure to redefine your definition of "heavy" metal. Perhaps the most amazing song on it all is, without question, Son of Nothing. Boasting riffs heavier than a black hole, this one actually gets **fast** towards the end. In fact, it's such a 2+2=5 event, your whole world shakes. Brace yourself, things get too heavy for even the Big Man Below to handle.
This is before Electric Wizard really came of age, however, and, thus, had a whole world to gain and nothing to lose. Come My Fanatics.... sounds desperately different from Electric Wizard and Dopethrone, so don't expect to buy all three and hear the same level of heaviness. Evolution, for El Wiz, occurred quickly. Distortion rules here. Doomantia actually tends to creep you out, and I will advise you now- do not listen to Return Trip's ending if you are: stoned; alone in the dark; high; scared of Satan; hate heavy metal. In fact, if you even smile, this album isn't for you. The utter blackness and despair Electric Wizard only dream of pushing on you in later albums comes out spontaneously in this most unholy mountain of metal.
You will be made a lowly bitch to this album. Complain, and face the consequences. Buy at all costs.
Electric Wizard changed between every full length, yet never was there a more dramatic change than from their debut self titled, to their second album, Come My Fanatics… On the self-titled, the band was a standard stoner metal band in every aspect; on this, the outfit that released Dopethrone can be seen with perfect clarity. The Wizard’s new persona came out of the oven fully formed, and Come My Fanatics… is without a doubt one of the band’s best works.
The whimsical tone of prior days is gone, replaced by the sea of distortion, lows and dopesmoke that would characterize the band from this point on. Oborn’s guitars are slow and enveloping, near formless, yet powerful all the same. The riffs are slow and, as always, Sabbath derived in nature.
The guitar isn’t the only instrument to reinvent itself on this album. Bagshaw’s bass work is as different from his prior efforts as night and day. He now grooves along with the guitar, occasionally even coming to the forefront and always influencing the sound in one significant way or another. Greening’s drumming here matches the pattern of what it would come to settle into. It’s a far more bombastic, cymbal driven style than he previously employed, but amidst the ocean of guitars it reverts to a similar supporting role.
Oborn’s vocals are far less prominent than they were before – or would be again for many years – but are much improved as well. Before he seemed to be between styles, straining and struggling at times, while excelling at others. The lyrics here are not necessarily improved from the debut, but the change in focus is undeniable. They’ve now donned their mantle of horror tales, surreal atmospheres and cynicism, a style they would always be known for from this day forward. The chorus of Wizard in Black is undoubtedly one of the finest the band’s ever written, and that’s ignoring the unforgettably stage-stealing delivery:
“The eyes of God look upon what he's done,
And the eyes of Man look on and beyond,
I am a god, I am the one,
Into the chaos see my time has begun.”
Wizard in Black, as a whole, is useful in determining the band’s new style. The main riff of the song is incredibly heavy, yet undeniably catchy at the same time, the Sabbath influence and the extremity of the tones and compositions merging to form a style nothing short of excellent. Electric Wizard is suffocatingly dark, but not depressing or wrathful. They’re slow, heavy and atmospheric, without loosing their songwriting charm. The lyrics are dark and simplistic, and yet often beautifully surreal and evocative. Another perfect example’s undoubtedly the, almost rock and roll, “Oh baby, just maybe,” portion of the chorus in Son of Nothing, a hook buried amidst mountains of distortion and apocalyptic imagery.
The first track of the album, Return Trip, is noteworthy for at once being an iconic Electric Wizard song, and yet being unique for violating the first of those aforementioned descriptions. This song bleeds malice from every slow, painful note. There’re only two riffs, both of which are as minimalistic and impenetrable as anything else the band’s ever done. The subject is similar to one often mentioned on the debut, but the outlook is, again, totally changed. On songs like Stone Magnet, the outside world was mentioned as being bleak, but usually as a reason to revel in the new planes revealed by weed. “But look around you, what you got / No hope, no future, no fuckin' job,” is preceded by “Looking all around, the world's a dream / Traveling to places that I have never seen / High up here is where I'm really free.” Return Trip is different. Beneath the supernatural sheen, the song is about the rejection and persecution of the stranger, he who can see beneath the surface and is utterly disillusioned about the world. “The sun burns in the stranger’s eyes / Just one tear before he dies…I hope this fucking world burns away / And I’d kill you all if I had my way.”
Ivixor B / Phase Inducer is the only track on here to truly break the mold, though that’s not to imply that the others blend together, not at all. This track is at once one of the most interesting portions of the album and one of the most pointless. Where’s the distinction? Right there, just where that slash between the two titles is. See it? Ivixor B features a truly weird rendition of an excellent riff. As opposed to those that make up the majority of the album, this isn’t a suffocating tide of distortion and feedback, but rather, mostly due to being guitarless, gives the rest of the track room to breathe, and that it does. Female vocals add a highly interesting atmosphere, while Greening plays what are by far his best passages on the album. Afterwards, after barely a quarter of the track’s length, Phase Inducer arrives, and we get to hear six and a half minutes of mixed silence and lone ambient effects.
Come My Fanatics… represents a completely new sound for the band, one that is dark, cynical and trailblazing. While the style would peak on Dopethrone, this album possesses a completely mature and excellent sound, a band already operating on vistas undreamed of by the vast majority of the genre.
Electric Wizard return with the follow up to their shapeless, shiftless and tiresome self-titled debut entitled ‘Come My Fanatics…’. The three man machine of Electric Wizard have seemingly gone away and worked on their weaknesses, whilst underlining their strengths. ‘Come My Fanatics…’, in some ways, is a continuation of the first full-length, but is so much more at the same time. Jus Oborn returns on guitar and vocal duty, Tim Bagshaw takes up bass and Mark Greening makes it his personal mission to instil a more powerful epicentre to the soundscapes on drums. To me, the wisest move this band made was the introduction of a second guitarist, Liz Buckingham. Her appearance on the scene really transformed Electric Wizard and having the ability of being able to play one guitarist off another was a trait that meant the soundscapes of the British band became more powerful and showcased their prowess in a much more heightened fashion. In fact, I would say that both ‘We Live’ and ‘Witchcult Today’ are my two favourite Electric Wizard records and both feature her on the guitar. Guitarists playing off one another is an amazing characteristic to have to your music if the performances are top drawer.
I must admit, the opening track, ‘Return Trip’ didn’t fill me with confidence. There seemed, to me, to be a message in the title itself. A return to old ways. I found the song to be dull. Whilst Jus was, again might I add, the main redeeming feature, the song wasn’t carried over well. Whilst the bass had more influence upon the soundscapes of Electric Wizard, it still wasn’t inspiring enough to make much of a difference to my overall opinion of the song. Once again, the sound seemed lazy, even for a doom/stoner crossover band, which is saying something. However, as the record progresses, so do Electric Wizard. ‘Black Wizard’ is a fine example of how the performance, on the whole, begins to take off and really shape the sound that the band would begin to rely on more and more as their careers, on the whole, progressed themselves. The vocals really begin to take shape and hold of the music. Jus has a wonderful voice in terms of his ability to really control the emotions of the audience and mould the texture of the music. For example, his vocals on ‘Black Wizard’ really shine through. He gives the song an extra emotional outlet and pours the seeping emotions on to the audience who can do nothing but lap them up.
The guitars begin to lead more and more too. The soundscapes are better when the guitar takes hold of them and dictates what they do. That’s how it should be. Doom is often very reliant on heavy riffs and thick production to heighten the appeal of the lyrical themes that are, supposedly, what the band is all about and Electric Wizard seem to be noticing this. The guitars lay down a heavy set of riffs and the bass backs it up, creating what would become the infamous wall of noise that people associate with Electric Wizard. The unbreakable sounds of those guitars are like bullet proof glass to bullets. The bass imposes itself more on this release, which I liked. More so often than not, the bass was swallowed whole by the guitars on the previous effort. It seemed, instrumentally, the band didn’t give themselves room to breath and really manipulate the space around them. However, although ‘Come My Fanatics…’ hasn’t reached the standard of latter records, it is beginning to showcase the British bands ability to be able to create awesome ambience and out-of-this-world sounds. 'Ivixor B / Phase Inducer' was the one real disappointment, aside from the opening track. Although it started off in a very odd, yet intriguing manner, it slowly turned out to be the token instrumental track, and a poor one at that.
I, for once, prefer the crushing nature of Electric Wizard. Whilst the self-titled release seemed lazy, this has put up more of a fight from critics and the like. Songs like ‘Doom - Mantia’ seem to suggest the song does what it sounds like. Dementia is defined as, “severe impairment or loss of intellectual capacity and personality integration, due to the loss of or damage to neurons in the brain.” To me, this aptly describes what the vast majority of Electric Wizard’s music does to it’s audience. Cripples them with monotonous riffs, thick and rigid bass and punchy percussion which makes it’s individual audience members feel like a lumbering boxer being punched in the head by severe blows. Instead of fists, double bass is what is hitting us in the face but we enjoy it. Whilst ‘Come My Fanatics…’ isn’t the pinnacle of this bands reign, it is a vast improvement on the debut. Well worth checking out if you like your doom heavy and your stoner thick.
The name "Electric Wizard" has become one with good doom metal. My first album by them was Witchcult Today. After I heard that, I was immediately hooked. Electric Wizard combined crushingly heavy, brutally slow riffs, with eerie, hollow vocals. "How could it get better?", I thought.
I had just discovered the "doom" sub-genre of metal, and was ready for more. From Witchcult Today, I purchased another Electric Wizard album, "Come My Fanatics...". I think I'll start by saying this: Come My Fanatics... is better than Witchcult Today, and that is an accomplishment in itself.
Come My Fanatics... is still the same thing. Tuned down guitars, horror themes, and long, slow songs.
I just feel that Come My Fanatics... showcases the style better.
So, what is this album, this true definition of doom? A must listen...
Come My Fanatics... opens with a wall of a fuzzy, down-tuned riff. Nearly three minutes in, the Wizard showcases their originality (and odd sense of humor) with a sample of someone yelling, "Get off my case, motherfucker!". Twenty seconds later, Jus Oborn's vocals enter, demonstrating his hollow, eery vocals. Another highlight throughout the album that must me mentioned are the outstanding lyrics:
"We left the war pigs far behind
Plot apocalyptic course to find
Will we ever reach our journey's end
To find a world and start again"
"War Pigs" isn't a very common phrase, providing more evidence of the Wizard's inspiration from Black Sabbath. In fact, many riffs (and lyrics) throughout feel like they could be straight off of "Master of Reality". Great songwriting, with lyrics that remain doomy and apocolyptic, yet poetic. In short, buy this album, and let the Doom wash over you...
+Lyrics wonderfully written
+Great guitar tone, Sabbath-esque riffs
+Vocals fit, and provide to the atmosphere of the music
+Drumming is simple, yet necessary
"Where to begin?" is the ultimate review cliche, but I'm really not sure where i should start. Electric Wizard developed their trademark sound on this album. They went from great, super-heavy, Sabbath worship, to a their own truly unique and bizarre brand of stoner doom.
The sound of this album goes beyond mere riffs, drum beats, and vocals. The use of heavy distortion, effects, processors, samples, sound effects, and ambient noise turn the songs into hazy cacophonies of swirling, fuzzy madness. The atmosphere is absolutely amazing... the room seems to fill with a thick fog when you put this album on. It's just so... full, in the best possible way.
The entire album is really non-stop awesomeness from start to finish. I'm normally not a fan of "track by track" reviews, but I feel that a brief description of each song will help a potential listener understand the journey that this album takes you on. You are immediately crushed by the staggering heaviness when the opening riff behemoth "Return Trip" kicks into gear. The grooving stoner rock masterpiece "Wizard In Black" changes is up a bit and carries you over the bridge into the mind-bending psychedelia of "Doom-mantia". The cosmic soundscape of the bass solo "Ivixor B/Phase Inducer" trails off into bizarre, minimalistic ambiance. This is sets up for the crushing, trudging, monstrosity that is "Son of Nothing". The closing track "Solarian 13" is a zone-out instrumental full of killer riffs and solos.
It seems to be the general consensus that "Dopethrone" is the Wizard's best work, but I have to disagree. I will defend "Come My Fanatics" as Electric Wizard's finest album 'til death. It is absolutely essential for anyone even remotely into doom metal.
The word "heavy" gets tossed around for a lot of different bands, some of them totally deserving it, and others get it simply because they play distorted guitars. Electric Wizard is probably the most deserving band of the adjective "heavy" since Black Sabbath. This record not only is deserving of it, but redefines what "heavy" really is.
So, if you haven't heard Electric Wizard before, it can be summed up with relative ease: 70s Black Sabbath for a new generation. This album came out in 1997, and is simply crushing. The band achieves this greatness with several key factors: riffs, simplicity, down tuning, and a lot of cannabis. Let's analyze this further shall we?
One will notice right away that the riffs here are pretty memorable. These guys tune all the way to B which proves to be really effective for these slow, drawn out riffs that rely on blues-based phrasing, much like Sabbath did. The production compliments this further by getting that low end out there, backed by some pretty sludgy bass. Jus Osborn throws on some good leads over the riffs which really help with counterpoint.
At this point, it's pretty clear that Electric Wizard wrote a record that takes the approach of "less is more". Riffs repeat often, song structures are relatively cyclic, and the riffs are not very notey. The band uses this to their full advantage, and lets the true meaning of heavy flow. Combined with their slow tempos, the simplicity becomes so catchy and genius. Even the lyrics are relatively short and simple (and one will notice some Black Sabbath allusions in them). Once the song develops around a central idea, the songs get broken up with some more "jam oriented" parts that seem pretty loose but effective.
Electric Wizard proudly advertise the fact that they love marijuana, and its effects are ever present in their music. From Osborn's raw throat to little nuances like coughing in songs, weed is everywhere here. This album will be a delight to any pot-head, but that doesn't mean it's only for drug users. Fans of doom, stoner rock, or slow heavy music in general will take liking to this.
Pretty much every song on here is full enjoyable. "Wizard In Black" has genius lyrics that are sure to intrigue fans, "Doom Mantia" is like a doom metal anthem almost, and "Son of Nothing" proves to be another track with lyrics that you can't help but sing to. Each song has it's own identity but seem consistent with each other.
This is a really great record full of blurry riffs and has a lot of staying power. They'll never top this album (but have come close). This is how doom metal should sound like today. Electric Wizard really took "heavy" to a whole new level here. If you're looking to buy this album, try grabbing the reissue that Candlelight put out, it includes some deadly bonus tracks that really seem to fit well.
Upon the release of their 1994 self-titled debut album, the UK’s Electric Wizard was merely a nice, dark, heavy doom metal band. Nothing all that special, and certainly not all that distinct from the other doom/stoner bands already clogging up the Rise Above records roster. But in the years to come, something went horribly, irreversibly wrong. A truly palpable sense of evil worked it’s way into the band’s psyche, and their sound became accordingly darker, slower and ever more cynical.
The tones Jus Oborn became capable of summoning up on his Gibson SG were of another world altogether, and clearly not what the instrument was designed for. And the rhythm section became more a duo of staggering zombies in doleful search of brain matter rather than percussive timekeepers. They follow, no lumber, behind the sonic maps laid out by Oborn, vainly hoping his dirges will lead them to somewhere where light can penetrate this unholy barrier of music keeping Electric Wizard from contact with the living. It’s true that we’ll probably never know exactly what it was that turned Electric Wizard off the (at least somewhat) bright path of biker/stoner rock and into a smoke infested, lung choking, hope-exterminating beast of purest musical sloth. But then, I guess what happened isn’t nearly as important as the fact that it did, and that we have the musical evidence to support the existence of this…THING.
There is a sort of constant drone that envelops this entire album, a sort of middle C cosmic doom note that seems to quiver eternally in the background…sort of like the use of drone instruments in Indian music, which is appropriate. The slow-mo syrup of Electric Wizard sound is nothing if not trance-like, although not in a blissful sense. I don’t think the ugly cynicism of opener “Return Trip” could ever envelop one with bliss, or even hope. But all is not pure ugliness, as revealed by “Wizard In Black,” which manages a sort of catchiness, despite it clocking in a 8 minutes 14 seconds of running time. And for those of you who come (…My Fanatics…) to this doom/stoner genre with the haze of the acidic sixties still hanging in your transom, fear not, because that dreamy, trippy vibe is evident, not only in the loose sloppiness of the drums ‘n bass, but also in the general lack of carved in stone structure these songs maintain. Also Oborn is very apt to cloak his voice in phasing effects (see “Doom-Mantia”), which should please those of you who thought “Planet Caravan” was the best track on Black Sabbath’s Paranoid (yeah, all three of you out there).
Also present is the not altogether shocking “Ivixor B/Phase Inducer,” which matches wailing world music vocals with synthesizer warbles that would not be out of place on elder prog or krautrock recordings of the early seventies (Amon Duul II, Faust, Guru Guru and maybe even Hawkwind, now that I think of it…). If you’re here for the doom, don’t worry, because “Son Of Nothing” throws us right back into the sludge, and this time with an almost normal tempo, clearer vocals, an a fairly apparent Melvins vibe watching over the band nervously. The almost wordless “Solarian 13” brings proceedings to an end, and quite perfectly at that, moving through weighty riffage towards a slow and hypnotic ending, almost stagnant, though hardly peaceful.
Yeah this is serious shit, man. And I must say that you can read my writing about this band all you want (like I’m really gonna stop you) but until you hear the multi-layered, cavernous sound their recordings possess, you really can’t understand the density on hand here. Other bands may be heavy, may be slow and may be trippy, but nobody but Electric Wizard really, elementally, biologically understands these notions. Heavy isn’t in the minds of these players, it’s in their DNA.
From a "Return Trip" beginning, to a "Solarian 13" exit, what we've got here is yet another fine piece of modernized, stoner, doom Metal from a pretty damn consistant band. As far as consistant, this band's sound hasnt grown emmensely, or changed that drasticly over the years, which for them, and alot of bands, is a good thing as you learn to harness your style, keep to your roots, and give the fanatical fans what they love. Being said, I must also note: dont expect alot of change on here, different riffs, slightly differing tempos, and an assortment of ideas yes, but generally the same production qualities as far as vocals, guitars, and drums are concerned is extremely simmiliar through out. Which is not a bad thing by the way, just what they do, and a part of the style of music they play. Abstract variety is tossed in by the way (listen to track 4 all the way through), its just only in certain smaller parts, yet does also give the music a very modern feel (which can be a bad thing to some people, but I like what they've done).
I'd say this is a pretty cool album to pick up, as the cd version I got comes as a double disc with the self titled, so for all fans not currently owning either, I'd suggest picking it up, or to any body interested in getting one of the bands albums, this is a good choice, and provides many songs by which to judge the band for yourself. Recorded in July of 1996, the lineup on this one consisted of Tim Bagshaw, Jus Oborn, and Mark Greening,... it was recorded at Red Dog Studios.
The music has a straight forward blues bassed form, with a bit of psychodelic influence, some drone, a heavy metal lean, and a loose hard rock jam feel. Overall, very enjoyable if that would be the type of music that would appeal to you. The song titles are cool (Son Of Nothing (cool lyrics also), Wizard In Black), and I must give my praise to the art work as well (the stag pic with the hooka rules). Probably accessable to fans of early Heavy Metal, bluesy old school hard rock, NWOBHM, modern Heavy Metal, Stoner Metal (probably most stoners regardless), Doom Metal, etc.