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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/