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Regarded as Electric Wizard's best album, "Dopethrone" is certainly their best known. Does the actual thing itself match the hype that's been spun about it? Too often the mythology that surrounds a particular recording is the last thing a band might want: newbies come with certain expectations generated by overblown hyperbole they see in online websites and blogs or in printed media. Eventually a person's gotta realise you can't avoid the album if everyone talks about it in hushed tones and eggs you on to hear it too.
Certainly you can see "Dopethrone" as a refinement of the previous "Come My Fanatics" to the extent that the first self-titled album might be viewed as a prequel recording to the corpus of Electric Wizard works proper. The subject matter is varied and ranges from pessimism about humanity and where it's headed; the escape into drugs as a way of relief from the depressing reality of human society, only to discover that drug addiction is its own prison; hatred leading to violence and perhaps suicide; and fantasy worlds of sword-and-sorcery rule and witchcraft as commentary on human nature and social behaviour. There's some influence from H P Lovecraft, in particular the famous short story "At the Mountains of Madness" with its hint of the return of the race of Cthulhu and ancient gods from outer space, on one track.
The music is generally grimy, crusty stoner doom metal with a thick, rough, fuzzed texture, relaxed percussion and bleached vocals. After a short, somewhat repetitive introductory track which presents the basics of Electric Wizard's style, we get down to business with "Funeralopolis", a raw and bleeding guitar dirge about Earth as a scorched post-apocalyptic rock inhabited by zombie bipeds: we just haven't realised we're the walking dead yet. The song builds up to a fierce, maddened and dangerous beast with Jus Oborn's voice increasingly becoming inhuman and ferocious. Likewise the third track "Weird Tales" is a complex critter with inventive instrumental passages, guitars scrawling circles of noise and fuzz or trailing long serpentine tails of scree and space ambient effects, and a general dark mood invading the song in parts. True, the song doesn't always hold together very well but I have the impression that at this stage in their career EW didn't care about writing songs with conventional song structures but were allowing the music to travel where it will and they following its spirit more or less intuitively.
After that 15-minute slab, the album bounces back and forth between lighter material like "Barbarian" and meatier tracks. "I, the Witchfinder" is a strong sludge doom track musically with sinister mood and slow burning tension. The instrumental passages soar high into a psychedelic firmament of bleached swirling acid shades and burning atmosphere. Lyrics leave something to be desired: it seems a rehash of stereotypes about the real-life self-styled witchfinder general Matthew Hopkins seen through the prism of Michael Reeve's 1968 film that starred Vincent Price as the villainous witch persecutor. (The film is worth seeking out as it's really about the effect of repression and persecution on innocent people in Oliver Cromwell's 17th century police state society and the depths the victims are driven to, to the extent that they become no better than their persecutors when they seize opportunities for vengeance. This is something EW could have picked up as it fits into the scope of their lyrical concerns.) The final two tracks are no slouches either: "We Hate You" is hard-edged, maniacal sludge doom seething with venomous hate against humans and "Dopethrone" is a mighty slab of encrusted-grime sludge that's at once self-referential, Lovecraftian in parts and dedicated to the Tao of Weed. The band conducts a blasphemous ritual summoning a dark deity from beneath the waves to rule Earth!
The album does appear to be untidy and all over the place but that's how stoner doom / psychedelic music should be. It would be strange indeed that a recording influenced and inspired by dope-smoking directly and indirectly should be tightly structured and controlled. The main thing about "Dopethrone" the album is that the music sounds very inspired and is robust and confident in its themes and performance. The trio do get carried away at times and fly high yet somehow have their feet on the ground when they need to be. Probably some of the lyrical material doesn't quite match the music in full flight and a song like "Barbarian" with its corny cartoon references could have been changed and refined so that dear old Conan could be left out. (Some of us still think of Arnie Schwarzenegger as Conan and guffaw.) On the whole, the music is consistent, inspired, vigorous and confident and "Dopethrone" well deserves its reputation as EW's best effort.
My best friend was riding with me in my car. We listened to this album and he suddenly said “It sounds like the guy is singing in a vacuum cleaner”. This might seem like an insult, but when you actually think about it – the whole idea of stoner metal is to construct an atmosphere of drug-induced, slow-witted and trashy uncanny moments. This is precisely what Electric Wizard did on this album.
It is as if you can sometimes clearly hear the influences of Black Sabbath on this band, since the bass and down-tuned guitar riffs sound very familiar to the work of Sabbath. The first track might get a bit boring after a while and when I listened to it the first time, I actually wondered how the rest of the album is going to sound. I must say that the band surprised me. The rest of the album is neatly constructed with some moments of insane ruthlessness and an overall we-don’t-give-a-fuck kind of attitude. Thus, a whole lot of themes are implemented: drugs, trances, mysticism, death, rebellion…
I especially like the guitar-effects that the band is using. The way in which the guitar and the vocals are teaming up to rape your ears is very unique. Throughout the whole album the vocals sound tired, frustrating, uncanny and a bit sarcastic. Having said this – there is nothing like a good down-tuned riff to grind the edges to make it sound like a broken down vehicle that just doesn’t want to start. Between these insane moments where all sorts of metaphors are summoned in your head by the music, there is also the usual head-banging kind of moments. These moments are nicely combined with very slow nerve-wrecking weirdness that brings something else to the table.
The track titled “Barbarian” is a typical traditional doom metal song. But this band just has a way to make it still sound unique, because it doesn’t sound generic in any way. The whole album is an interwoven piece of art – every song relates to the previous and the next. The down-tuned guitars are sometimes combined with a more screaming sound that feels like a metal blade cutting through your nerves. The psychological aspect that is conjured up with this technique is something that is really amazing, because that helps you to understand that this is not your typical laid-back kind of stoner album. Instead it is an album which can be classified between a laid-back mood and a mental breakdown. Just as you relax and the music takes you into a trance, the following piece is suddenly appearing with some muffled vocals filled with anxiety and guitars that make you feel a bit on edge.
I have mixed feelings about the hidden track at the end. In some way it is quite funny to skip through the minutes of endless silence just to discover a radio-track where the so-called dangers of Satanism are discussed. This is the truly sarcastic side of Electric Wizard. But the opposite is also true – it feels like a waste, because the band could have used that time to record at least one more song filled with some junky, trashy, slow-but-also-fast chaos.
WARNING: This album WILL cause bowel destruction.
Electric Wizard, from England, are a band that has a long history behind them, both in their own minds and the minds of the listeners. Critics have regarded Electric Wizard as "the heaviest band ever" and the band have nearly hit the mainstream a few times because of this label. Some bands are given this label simply because they play downtuned guitars and smash on drums, but others totally deserve it. Electric Wizard falls into the latter category, and critics are not wrong when they call Electric Wizard "the heaviest band ever". This cd, "Dopethrone", is generally regarded as their magnum opus, and with a good reason. It's an exhilarating, exhausting, hypnotic journey through weed smoke, horror, murder, drugs, torture, and devastation. This is "Dopethrone", and you are its helpless slave for one hour and fifty-seven seconds.
"Dopethrone" is a truly massive album. It's one your either going to love or loathe. Whether you fall into either category, you can't deny that Electric Wizard has stapled into music history and relevance with this album. If I could recommend any album to introduce people to doom metal, I would choose either this album or Sabbath's "Paranoid".
The musical style of Electric Wizard is stoner doom metal with a few sprinkles of ambiance here and there. On "Dopethrone", the band takes everything they have done in past (and debated future) efforts and blends them to make one beastly album. The music is heavily drowned in guitar fuzz and is extremely distorted. At random intervals guitars will break out into a stream of feedback such as in the middle of the eponymous track (and masterpiece) "Dopethrone", and at the end of "Weird Tales" which is nothing but guitar noise and pounding tribal percussion.
The guitars, when they are not bursting into feedback, are absolutely gigantic. Songs on here are usually built around two or three repetitive riffs (only one riff on the fifth track), but the heaviness and intensity of them prevent them from getting boring. Oftentimes, these riffs will build up into a mammoth explosion of sound, such as in the bridge at the 4:47 mark of "Funeralopolis", one of the more traditional sounding songs on this album (by traditional, I mean that it has a more "normal" sense of progression than the other tracks). Soloing on this album is sparse, but when solos do appear, they either only last a few seconds or drag on for minutes on end. "I, The Witchfinder" (which is the one riff song I mentioned earlier) is one such example of a lengthy solo on this cd that wanders around for the final six minutes or so of the song. I initially thought this solo was too redundant and overstayed its welcome, but I grew accustomed to its repetitiveness after several listens and acts more like a psychedelic rock solo than a doom metal solo.
The drumming of Mark Greening is, for the main part, drowned out by the guitar and bass, but he is still noticeable enough in the production and is not a simply a fodder member. Like most good doom drummers, he doesn't do anything flashy, but stays relevant and doesn't push himself too hard to play something catchy. On some tracks, though, such as "I, The Witchfinder" and "Vinum Sabbathi", the band gives him enough time to shine in the production more so than other tracks.
Tim Bagshaw's bass is perfectly audible and is the backbone of this album. He switches between bone-crushingly heavy dirges to a groovy, spaced out jam like in the intro of the aforementioned "Funeralopolis". Perhaps his heaviest bass work here is on the title track, downtuned to the point where it is almost identical to the guitar (which is not a bad thing.)
Jus Oborn is in control of the guitars that I mentioned earlier, but he is also in charge of the vocals. Many listeners of this album say that his vocals are the weak point of Electric Wizard, but I personally disagree. It is true that he takes an angsty, desperate approach to his vocal style, but this is a positive because it can really make the music sound even scarier and crushing. At a few instances throughout the album, Jus Oborn will increase his angsty clean vocals into a tortured scream, such as on the title-track - "Rise, rise, RIIIISE!" or on "Funeralopolis" - "NUCLEAR WARHEADS, READY TO STRIKE, THIS WORLD IS SO FUCKED, LET'S END IT TONIGHT!" If the album didn't sound post-apocalyptic and bleak enough, these screams will downright obliterate whatever life is left on the cold, desolate planet that is Electric Wizard.
This is definitely an album that is not for the faint of heart. You will either love or hate this album, but those who love it will always respect it as one of the greatest doom metal albums of all time. Accept your fate and let the three wizards crowned with weed annihilate your brain.
(Originally written by me under the account "Doomster" to the MetalMusicArchives:http://www.metalmusicarchives.com/dopethrone--review.aspx?id=258138)
There’ve been many rather unusual spurts of evolutionary chaos in the history of doom metal, from its seemingly spontaneous invention in the early days of Black Sabbath to the present day. The trend that paved the way for what is seen in the blustering explosion of hemp and swamp gas that is Electric Wizard can be partially credited to the noise driven, low end tone set by St. Vitus about 10 years prior, though equal credence should be given to the band’s own death/doom roots, back when they were under a different name (Lord Of Putrefaction). It’s a sound that is underscored by a unique brand of nastiness that has clear grounding in 70s Sabbath tradition, yet sounds all but a world away from such early examples as “Sweet Leaf” and “Snowblind”.
“Dopethrone” is generally regarded as this band’s breakout record, to the point of several well known metal media outlets hailing it as either the album of the decade or a close contender to said honor. This sentiment isn’t without a very clear rationale, as this collection of songs provides an archetypical model upon which the style can be judged. The punishingly low tempos, minimalist to the point of droning guitar lines, hypnotic and semi-psychedelic underpinnings in the atmosphere and narrated samples, all buried under a mountain of muddy heaviness is packaged in such a way as to be easily consumed, provided that one has a taste for said ingredients. It’s basically a purist example of how a modern outfit reinterprets the past with an eye for simplicity and aggression.
The contingency of this album’s digestibility is utterly blatant, hence while achieving an amount of visible recognition, this is more of a cult album that commands love and devotion from true believers and will often put off outsiders to this style. The mood of the entire listen is a very forward sense of realistic fatalism, seeing society through the lens of pure dissent, and bringing dope into the equation as an element to heighten the rebellion, rather than as a form of escapism. The somewhat traditionally Sabbath oriented intro to “Funerapolis” gives a subtle nod to the orthodox stoner, but makes a sudden morph into a bleak, post-60s world where drugs are no longer about peace and flowers, but instead a means of ending a miserable existence in an even more miserable world.
While much of the album tends towards a super-pessimistic outlook on mankind that borders on extreme misanthropy, there is some room made for worlds apart from this one, but not for purposes of escape, but instead for an alternate reality just as dark and uninviting. The band’s death/doom era fascination with horror and the occult makes a few appearances on here, particularly in the manifestations of “Weird Tales” and “I, The Witchfinder”, both seeing a longwinded reinterpretation into the same drug steeped sound as the rest of the album, the former going through 3 different segments of varying feel, while the latter just plods in the most merciless of ways in a manner befitting an ambient album. All the while is the morose voice of Jus Oborn, carrying a tune yet haggard and gravely sounding, like a twisted soul shouting at random manifestations while on a bad LSD trip.
The Electric Wizard institution is generally a consistent one, so it’s safe that anyone who has heard and liked one of their albums will like most of them, particularly the pre-2003 material. “Dopethrone” is perhaps the most known of their albums, but apart from the slightly more modern character, there isn’t really anything that makes it more entertaining or of a higher quality than the previous 2 albums. It’s an essential pickup for any doom/stoner fan who wants just one more excuse to hate the establishment, but my preference is for “Come My Fanatics”, perhaps because it’s a bit closer to the traditional Sabbath mentality that St. Vitus masterfully revived in the 80s. But this does deserve the hype it tends to get, if for no other reason than that it may rope in some new adherents to the great wizard.
Originally submitted to (www.metal-observer.com) on July 27, 2011.
Electric Wizard was my introductory band when I first started listening to stoner/doom metal. Whichever one you want to call it, they are both great and both encompass their style fairly well. I don't think that I could dub this as the 'heaviest' album ever, but I can't deny that the bass is crushing in the best - and most platonic - way possible.
Vocals: In this album, it appears that this fella's voice was put farther behind the mix than what they normally do. Personally, I really don't mind; it seems to take on a more atmospheric feel along with the accompanying mix of his voice himself, and it turns out pretty nicely. The lyrics are poetic in their own way; I can't really help but chuckle a little bit at the weed themes applied to their writing, but beyond that they seem to expand fairly well. They tend to be a bit bleak, but so is the composition of the music itself, so it harmonizes.
Guitars: I've heard that these two play out of bass amplifiers, which I could believe having tried it myself (it sounds great). While they don't write any mind boggling lead work or syncopated riffing, it tends to lean on a more expressive side, which accents their blues-reminiscent style. On 'We Hate You', there is a lead progression that comes in during the chorus - it might be the third one, I'm not sure - that puts me in a really nice state when enjoying the music. It's only three notes, but the way in which it is played makes a very noticeable difference.
Bass: Bass is heavy, and heavy is what this is intended to be. Thusly, the bass is a really heavy thing. It stands out particularly on Funeralopolis, breaking away momentarily from the guitars to flip open a jar off bluesy leads, which, of course, requires a bong rip. Most of the time he follows the guitar on this album, which isn't necessarily bad considering the bass heavy mix of the music. From that perspective, it's always enjoyable.
Drums: Nothing too spectacular here, in my opinion, but I admire his preciseness and syncopation at such a slow rhythm. The drums seem mostly atmospheric on this release; mostly serving to carry each song on a charging beast of bass drums and shuffle rhythms. Which, to me, is pretty god damned cool. I also like his use of the toms, which end up coming in real handy for a quick change up.
Overall: A well crafted masterpiece. I gave it a 95% rating because I strongly believe that they should have made The Hills Have Eyes longer. Forty-seven seconds of chill, epic blues leads and bass rhythm is really not enough time to truly enjoy it. But that's what the repeat button is for.
U.K. metal magazine Terrorizer named Electric Wizard's Dopethrone the greatest album of the last decade, and U.S. mag Decibel also gave it a very respectable position. I had a very hard time imagining that a stoner doom album could be that great. I had 1997's Come My Fanatics . . . and, while it was good, it wouldn't even cross my mind that they could make the best album of the decade.
So, I decided to check it out. As usual with stoner doom, it is as heavy as possible, and moves at a snail's pace. It has a crunchy kind of feel overlaid with occasional 70's style lead guitar embellishments. It steamrolls everything in its path, slowly but inevitably.
There is one interlude on the album, so it really has only 7 tracks. The shorter three (clocking in under 7 minutes) move a little faster, and serve to mix things up a little bit. They're not the reason we listen to the group, though.
The longer tracks--the 9 minute "Funeralopolis", 15 minute "Weird Tales", and the 11 minute cuts "I, the Witchfinder" and title track--are what really shine, giving the band time to really explore the excellent riffs they've created and move the songs into different territory. The weakest among these is "Weird Tales", largely because it has several minutes of BS noise at the end.
I really have only two very, very minor complaints. The vocals are a fairly generic, unskilled affair, but this is helped by the use of distortion. The other complaint is that "Dopethrone" contains about ten minutes of silence followed by an unnecessary hidden sound clip.
The Verdict: While I wouldn't have put it at the top of the list, I can't fault Terrorizer for doing so, especially since they're British (the band and the magazine). It's as close to perfect as any stoner doom album ever has been, and is heavier than anything else out there.
originally written for http://fullmetalattorney.blogspot.com/
Music is a sonic doorway to another’s imagination. Through it you can view the world as others does and gaze upon strange soundscapes that would be impossible to view unaided. Some albums go further, though. Their music isn’t just a window into another plane, bur rather a gateway, and the instruments drag you through and leave you hopelessly submerged in a world that is not your own. You are no longer anything as passive as a listener, an observer, but are rather immersed in the center of the experience, mesmerized by the power of what goes on around you. Electric Wizard’s Dopethrone is one such album.
The music has the hypnotic power, bottomless low end, and absolute heaviness of drone bands like Sunn O))), combined with the bluesy, doomy powers of Black Sabbath, and tempered with the glassy eyed glaze of dopesmoke and the psychedelic music of another era. The end result combines the best of everything that went into it, creating a monster of an album that is absolutely enthralling and atmospheric, yet has the stunningly heavy and memorable riffs of the most crushing doom.
The guitar playing of Jus Oborn is monolithic. The tone is massive beyond belief, low and distorted beyond recognition. The guitar is not a bludgeon, but rather a vast ocean of impossible depth, not assaulting the listener but rolling over them, endless and impenetrable. The riffs are generally simple. They’re very loose, but played in such a manner that there is no doubt that this is the only possible way they could ever be played. Most are repeated for minutes on end, some for far longer than your average song. No matter how long they play their power enthralls you just as capably, and as time goes on the band’s colossal imagery is reinforced again and again. Solos are drenched in reverb and stagger around in a drugged daze, providing a delicious break from the band’s usual weighted fair while the rhythm section is left to carry the riffs.
Tim Bagshaw’s bass is highly audible. It generally follows the guitars, adding even more weight to the riffs and often provides something more tangible to hold onto during the maelstrom of distortion. There are several times when it deviates from its supporting role and takes the lead, all of which work flawlessly. Mark Greening’s drumming is an onslaught of constant cymbal crashes, a style that would normally prove bombastic and overpowering. Here, however, it is required for them to remain prevalent in the mix and even then they’re more of a supporting instrument than a true leader. They’re far more than adept at laying down solid grooves.
The vocals are, without a doubt, another highlight of the release. Jus Oborn’s style is, at its base, clean and highly reminiscent of Osborn’s. The vocals are often subjected to effects, including frequent use of distortion and delay. Instead of soaring over the tops of these waves, Oborn merely rides in the center of the storm, singing with the guitars instead of against or above them. The lyrics are excellent. They depict a mixture of horror tales, primarily derived from Lovecraft’s stories, to the apocalypse and, of course, to the ever prevalent theme of weed. They manage to perfectly convey their payload of images and ideas, outwardly simple lines that flow perfectly and are as captivating as the music they accompany. The first verse of Funeralopolis is an excellent example:
Funeral planet, dead black asteroid
Mausoleum, this world is a tomb
Human zombies, staring blank faces
No reason to live, dead in the womb
Death shroud existence, slave for a pittance
Condemned to die before I could breathe
Millions are screaming, the dead are still living
This Earth has died yet no one has seen
Dopethrone is a long album, one made up of long songs, several of which breach the ten minute mark. These are far from vapid and bloated. They build atmosphere on single riffs and switch with such subtlety that the flow is uninterrupted and the mood only deepens. The average Electric Wizard epic is a musical journey equivalent to that of an average album.
The album opens with Vinum Sabbathi, by far the shortest ‘real’ song on the album. This is more of a teaser than anything else. Like several other songs, it opens with a sample from a horror movie and then continues into the riffs, acting as the perfect entryway to the album proper. Funeralopolis is next. It opens with a clean guitar playing bluesy leads, while bass and drums groove below. After a time the distortion enters and the song gradually builds in intensity as the pathetic state of the world is elaborated on, both through the bleak lyrics and the hopeless guitars. The song climaxes as Oborn shouts, “Nuclear warheads ready to strike / The world is so fucked, let’s end it tonight!” again and again, voice growing harsher with each repetition.
Weird Tales follows, an opus of Lovecraftian horror and atmosphere. The song is divided into three parts. The first two are crushingly heavy and spell the world’s doom out with descriptions of waiting elder gods. The last portion, Altar of Melektaus, is comprised of swirling ambient and rhythmic drumming that takes minutes to recede, weaving a bewildering web of twisted strands over the listener’s psyche as it finally fades away. Barbarian follows, a far simpler song than the two that have gone before. It is an ode to Robert E. Howard’s Conan and as such is remorselessly crushing and punishing. Over the music Oborn sings powerful lines like, “He carved a kingdom of stone / King Conan, sitting on his bloody throne.” Like in the stories themselves, surreal atmospheres clash beautifully with absolute brutality.
I, the Witchfinder is by far the most grueling song on the album. It is over eleven minutes long and is painfully simple, consisting of only a few riffs and only two proper verses. The guitars drag and groan while Oborn painfully lays each line down on top of the last, a slow moaning to deliver the sick and twisted lyrics. This song will leave you twisted and exhausted. It doesn’t feel like its, admittedly long, eleven minute length, but rather an endless slog that clocks in through hours and days, rather than with minutes and seconds.
The following track, The Hills Have Eyes, is an interlude consisting of bluesy guitar leads and simple beats. It’s enjoyable, although too short to leave much of an impression. Even this, in its odd way, makes it memorable, offering one tantalizing glimpse while most songs drone across vast soundscapes. The following track, We Hate You, is also of a less epic vein, although it’s nonetheless highly interesting and probably the most aggressive cut the band’s provided. The bend-packed riff is memorable and almost catchy, the lyrics, while slightly over repetitive, very well done. “So I’ll take my father’s gun and I’ll walk down the street / I’ll have my vengeance now with everyone I meet, yeah!”
Next is the penultimate title track, Dopethrone. This isn’t the longest song but it’s an epic journey nonetheless. The music is the culmination of everything that came before, drowning and enthralling in equal measure. The main riff is a behemoth that might just be the heaviest riff on the album and that’s no easy feet. The lyrics are a mixture of sorcery, dopesmoke and amusing self awareness. “Rise, black amps tear the sky,” sums up the entire album perfectly, while verses like:
“Dopethrone, in this land of sorcery
Dopethrone, vision through T.H.C
Dopethrone, feedback will free
Dopethrone, three wizards crowned with weed”
are nothing short of brilliant. The song seems to die off and then comes back just as strong, ending with talking buried too far beneath massive riffs to be made out.
Providing that you have the rerelease of the album, you’re then treated to the bonus track Mind Transferal. This track is a bit weightier than most, tying in at just shy of fifteen minutes. It’s instrumental and consists of nothing but monstrous grooves. It doesn’t add onto what the album before it had, but it doesn’t need to be worthy.
Phrases like, ‘time flies when you’re having fun,’ are everywhere. In the same vein, people often describe their favorite albums as passing in the blink of an eye. Well, if you’re looking for an album like that, Dopethrone will disappoint. There is nothing fast about this album. You can’t play it day after day, throwing it on as fun background music to empower you. No, Dopethrone sounds like it takes weeks to play from beginning to end. At the end of that time you look back to before you hit play and wonder how you could possibly be the same person before and after this monolithic dedication to dope, horror, and, above all, music.
This album, no this band, has its own legacy that it is the heaviest material recorded. I'm partial to this opinion.
No, it's not blastfest heavy, it's not super technical grinding guitar passages, and it's certainly not an hour of crushing speed. What it is, however, is a sludgy doom album of massive proportions.
Starting off with 'Vinum Sabbathi', a small sample plays stating that you either die or go insane in "one of these groups". Immediately afterwards, a bass riff drenched in muck and distortion collides into you. It's a quick teaser, just a little slideshow, if you will. It's probably the fastest song or part on the album, maybe only a little slower than the bridge in 'Funeralopolis'.
Speaking of which, this song starts off with a cleaner riff, a little blues riff. It quickly escalades into a little lead bit, and then comes in with hissing amps and of course, mounds of distortion. This droning, massive riff from the intro returns and just smashes itself through the verses and chorus. About 5 minutes in the song really kicks it up a notch, instrumentally and vocally. It speeds up into this great doom riff, which ends in a Sabbath-esque fill, and then Jus Oborn completely flips. He just starts belting his lyrics a lot harsher (not counting the reverb and fuzz on his vocals already), and eventually the song climaxes with a single line of lyrics getting harsher and harsher and that Sabbath-esque riff and solo, there's also an extremely psychedelic use of studio flanger, delay, and chorus on one of the guitar tracks before the end of the song.
So, those two songs generate the general lowdown of the album, a couple shorter songs or interludes, and absolute riff-monsters. The rest of the album, excluding 'The Hills Have Eyes', hits five minutes or longer and just decides to pummel you even further with the sludgy glory. Despite all this heaviness, the third track has some rockier moments squeezed into its drone and doom, most especially in the first part of the song.
The guitars on this album are your standard Sabbath-doom fare. They range from pentatonic scales to tritones and minor scales, and it all works. The tone of the guitars is based solely on distortion, fuzz, and sludge. Grimey and loose, the guitars have a very South U.S. tone to them, very big and meaty. Well, anyways, the guitars are pretty cool and have a disturbingly heavy roar. On that same note, the bass is remarkably out in the open, and has a very crusty and dry tone, matching perfectly with the guitars wet and sloppy sound.
The drums are crisp and punchy, and the drumming is particularly well-done for a doom metal release. Never throwing in a fill that is unnecessary or stupidly long, the drumming chugs the music along and keeps up when the rockier, Sabbath moments kick in.
Jus Oborn's vocals on thisalbum are fairly unique. His vocals usually consist of yelling or singing a bit harshly, but what defines the vocals is the layer of fuzz and reverb that is absolutely drenched over them. It makes the release sound even heavier, dirtier, and grimier than it would have had it had vocals similar to those on the self-titled.
The production is as it should be, and it's already been discussed; heavy, dirty, sludgy, more adjectives that concern muck, etc.
The songwriting is pretty well done, resulting in epics like 'Funeralopolis' and 'Weird Tales' that just drone and drone, but in a good way. However, the songwriting gets a huge cut because of how criminally short 'Vinum Sabbathi' is. It could have been the best song on the album next to the first section of 'Weird Tales' had it had a proper solo, another cool riff, or something.
On a negative note, sometimes the vocals come across a little too angsty and the guitars just fizzle out with hissing and annoying feedback.
But, it's still a great release, and deserves a listen from anyone who calls themselves 'a fan of doom metal'
Doom metal is not so much a different genre as it is just a type of heavy metal that intentionally sounds like a glorious tribute to old Black Sabbath. Electric Wizard are one of the most recognized bands that have made that sound their motif but I think the other well known bands Cathedral, Saint Vitus and Sleep play doom a lot better. I like EW’s first album and some of the music on Come My Fanatics but Dopethrone demonstrates why I just can’t get into this band like other listeners do.
A huge syrupy stoner sound pervades this record and all the trademark ingredients are to be found but this really sounds too much like sped up drone and the vocals of Jus Oborn really suck. That’s been the biggest thing I never liked about this band. They are too whiney and monotonous. I think even sixty-year old Ozzy would do better than this. It’s not bad enough that the record is overlong but to have to endure the inanity of the ranting vocals just kills this thing when I thought a song might have a chance to be really good.
Heavy is a good way to describe Dopethrone but it’s still too boring and drawn out. Bass lines are one the most defining aspects in doom but the band goes into utter obviousness with it. Vinnum Sabbathi was enough of a showcase to attest to the heaviness but it quickly gives way to the song Funeralopolis which sounds too free form to be that long. You listen to the first three or so minutes of it and it sounds decent but it wears thin quickly. Weird Tales is broken up into three pieces. I wish I could say this song was a lot better than the last one but it’s just an exercise in ad nauseam. It’s also the most dronish track because that’s what it turns into at the end. Barbarian picks things up again with an upbeat tempo and down tuned mania. Most of these cuts have either guitar solos or bass solos and I don’t think they are supposed to stand out too much. Heavy distortion and fuzzy slowness are this band’s modus operandi.
I have listened to this record many times only to come away with the realization that this is an album that I can respect but not embrace. After all, I have listened to bad doom metal before (that would be the band Goatsnake) and this is not it. Electric Wizard is relatively good and stylish doom and I can see the attraction by fans of the subgenre but I like doom and I am not one of those who will buy into the hype. Dopethrone is just too much of what I don’t like about the band and even though I like some drone, it doesn’t work for me here. This is the kind of album that makes me sleepy or makes me sit up waiting for something special to come but never does. This is respectable but not exemplary doom.
"Dopethrone": an album you're either going to love or hate. The music is fundamentally influenced by marijuana, stemming from an altered state of mind where reality becomes timeless and introspective, where the world as we normally see it is changed and perceived anew. It's probably not absolutely necessary to have indulged in that particular drug to understand the primal power of this release, but it surely does not hurt. Whatever the truth may be, some people will simply never 'get it'; it will always be to them a simplistic mess devoid of any merit. Nevertheless, I will attempt to explain.
This is bludgeoning stoner doom, a simple exercise in slow and crushing riffs that roll slowly out one after the other in a wall of noise. "Dopethrone" is a complete regression, disappearing back beyond the dawn of metal, into the crust of an age past where all that existed was an ancient slime. Taking the huge, dark, blues-influenced riffs of early Black Sabbath as a starting point - the sound of metal still unformed - Electric Wizard detune several steps further, all the while amping up the distortion to absurd levels.
And the riffs! These riffs are not just riffs, but looming statements of elemental force; rudimentary in their simplistic and primal groove, operating on the instinctive level rather than the cerebral. The sweeping grandeur of music like the opening to "Funeralopolis" is addictive, finding the deepest part of us and expressing a profound and epic emotion that is difficult to express. It can be hard to accept music so apparently ugly, slow and basic, but once the listener is able to open this door the magic is immediately apparent. To tell the truth, these are not just riffs, a mere part of the music; the music IS the riff in a way that no other band have ever managed. These monstrous things simply dominate the entire soundscape with a greedy lack of concern for parsimony or restraint, vast and imperious. Normal riffs, as would be found on any normal album - a mere part of a greater whole as they inevitably are - become pathetic and meaningless next to this ultimate power. Songs? Ha! Such trivial concepts hold no water here; the riff is the alpha and the omega, bowing to nothing in this music. They do not serve the compositions; instead, pieces are built around and entirely based on letting the riffs flow forth without haste, be they mighty crushing monoliths or sludgy, quiet selections of sombre menace. Only when the riffs cease may other elements of composition be permitted to exist; a drone, toneless noise, hanging in the air like the primordial soup from which all music is formed.
Seeming to emerge from the oozing mass at the dawn of life itself, crushed under the weight of eons, vocals hiss forth - a distorted and echoing scream buried in the cavernous mass of the riffage. The crashing drums thunder away, hopelessly unable to support the weight of guitar than falls upon them; smashing, crash-cymbal abuse, ape-like in their bludgeoning primacy. Bass guitar grinds, thick and ropey, a fundamental part of this sound - harmonising, twisting into slow and sludgy fills, or falling upon the root note with a crash. Solos pour out, taking the very concept of this technique and debasing it into a hopeless wail; keening from afar like a lost spirit, droning and lost. Every part of the band contributes to music that can barely be called such, so far has it devolved. And this is all achieved without anything so crass or forced as experimentation; Electric Wizard have simply unleashed what is within us all, ugly and raw.
"Dopethrone" is pure filth, with all elements of its structure rudimentary in the extreme. The result is something so crushing and viscerally powerful that it really defies words. Utilising the barest, most instinctive essentials of rhythm and melody, Electric Wizard have written what sounds like the very first music. Essential, but only for the select few.
Terrible albums' getting overrated is not an uncommon thing. But occasionally some of those are hailed as classics, and that is completely puzzling. Electric Wizard's Dopethrone is a prime example of such a case.
Utterly worthless "music," and yet such a high praise... The truth is that this is most definitely not a classic. This is really an anti-classic, showing how crappy music can get.
Heavy. That is the word that always appears when somebody describes this album. This isn't exactly as light as a feather, I'll give you that, but I will never understand how people can really think this is heavy at all, let alone "the heaviest ever." Sure, the guitars are heavily distorted, but that does not make the tone heavy (it sounds like an inflated balloon, taking up much volume but not having anything solid inside), and even if we assume that the guitar tone is heavy, that does not actually make the music heavy, right? Guitar tone is a part of heaviness, not heaviness itself. Genuine heaviness requires heavy riffs and heavy drumming as well - which this album lacks. And this large amount of distortion is not exactly a good thing because it really contributes to further burying the already boring riffs - and the riffs are like a cross between early Sabbath and early Marilyn Manson, but just more boring and slower than either bands' riffs. They also frequently add extra noise with flange effects, which are just as pointless as the purpose of this album - except the point of adding an extra dimension of annoyance, if you want to call it a "point."
As if that were not enough, everything else pushes the boundaries of pointlessness. The rhythm section is really just there, not doing anything besides providing a constant beat. Okay, at least that is better than not having any bass or drum. But the solos are absolutely atrocious. I would rather listen to tech death or prog metal bands just playing the scale really, really fast than listen to these. If those solos are nothing but speed, then these solos are nothing but annoyance. If you don't have any idea about how to write a coherent solo, just leave it out! This seriously would have been better without the solos (actually, this album would have been better without any music at all). Thankfully the solos are very much buried by the excessive distortion, but still they manage to annoy me more than any technical wankery ever could.
Did I mention songwriting? Oh, I just did. Now, that is one word that should not be mentioned in a review of Dopethrone, and I deeply apologize for mentioning that. Since I did mention it anyway, I will do my best to talk about it: it isn't there. There, that's all it needs to be said. This is just a collection of mutually indistinguishable riffs, each one just as boring as the one before, that just keeps going on and on. There maybe are choruses and bridges and all that stuff, but they might as well do away with those, because if there are, then they are hardly recognizable anyway. This music is incredibly loose - about as loose as guitar strings would have been had one tuned down as low as Electric Wizard does on a normal guitar. There is no climax, and it just drones on and on. This music goes nowhere, but not in the sense that it goes somewhere completely random. This literally doesn't go anywhere. It just goes in circles (and a pretty small circle at that) from where it started, alternating between one point of boringness and another, with the incredibly monotonous vocals adding to the one-dimensionality of the music that drives you crazy. It feels like the band is just jamming in front of you, without any thoughts about writing a coherent song. There are some useless and very, very long "ambient" parts that really test your patience, too. The sad thing is, even if you manage to sit through this terrible boredom, what waits is the actual music, which is much more annoying. So, while this "ambience" is really a terrible idea in itself, it actually comes off as one of the high points of the album, because the actual music is so low. Roughly speaking, if the music is a negative ten, the ambience is a negative five. Both are bad, though one is better than the other.
You know the noise that your television makes when it is not working, right? Listening to this is about as much a musical experience as listening to that noise for an hour (and looking at the cover art would be like staring at the gray screen). This album is absolutely worthless and does not have a single good moment or a single good element. Dopethrone is a sonic trash, deserving to be thrown away into the nearest trashcan.
‘Dopethrone’ marks the beginning of even more change on the Electric Wizard scene. Whilst the line-up stayed the same, the band saw noticeable changes in production and sound. To me, the third outing is by far and away the most accessible record that the British band have issued to the public. As I said, the line-up is the same. We have Jus contributing on vocals and supplying the main outlet to the soundscapes on guitar, Tim takes charge of bass once again and Mark picks up the sticks again and takes control of the percussion. By this stage, the British outfit had gained a lot of fans and popularity. ‘Come My Fanatics…’ solved a lot of the problems that existed on the debut, but didn’t rid them all. ‘Dopethrone’, on the other hand, is considered by most to be the best effort by the band from Dorset, in the South West of England. This is the first time in the history of the band that I could really say I truly enjoyed what was laid in front of me. During each and every one of the previous efforts, I had concerns and weren’t misplaced by any means. Whilst the previous two efforts could be considered largely superfluous, ‘Dopethrone’ was the most powerful, rejuvenated and rhythmic piece of work done by the British outfit. Not until later efforts had this one been surpassed in terms of quality.
The most noticeable change, for me, was in terms of the bands concentrated effort. Three of the eight songs available on this record are over the average length of a song you would expect to see on any given record. Electric Wizard seem to be more able now than ever before to stretch the music. To shape it in any way they see fit, which underlines the obvious talent this band has. In the past, the band have struggled to use the heavy and thick set songs to their advantage. Even on shorter songs, Electric Wizard didn’t seem able to produce the sound they truly wanted. Instead, we were left with mixed bags. The self-titled effort was lazy, ‘Come My Fanatics…’ was bordering on average to good but ‘Dopethrone’, however, really begins to excel in terms of appeal, creativity and innovation. Take ‘Weird Tales’ for example, Electric Wizard have finally grasped the concept that bass is very useful on doom/stoner records. On previous efforts, the main complaint has been the feature of bass, or lack there of. It was largely overshadowed in the past, especially on the debut. However, ‘Dopethrone’ really begins to express the talents that not only Tim has, but the bass instrument itself. On music where the production allows thick music to be the order of the day, Electric Wizard have only just started using this to their considerable advantage. Bass is much improved on this record. It has more creative freedom and the expression of the bass is higher than it has ever been. Tim is a good bassist, there was never any doubting that, but Jus was left to carry the soundscapes alone. Whilst the guitar is affective at creating the heavy atmospheres that doom relies on and needs to have in order to succeed in today‘s market, it cannot stand alone in it’s quest to wash a heavy wave of rhythmic heaviness over the audience. The bass needs to stand up, as does the double bass. Both, thankfully, do. In doing so, the rhythmic nature of Electric Wizard is enhanced. The bass is a very rhythmic instrument, creating bass line after bass line that will be sure to have every fan nodding along.
The drums are much improved too. There is more distinction in Electric Wizard’s music. As I’ve said, in the past the instruments present on the album had a tendency to get lost sometimes, but that isn’t by any means as much a problem as it once was. Jus’ vocals also allow masses of creativity to flow through the sound. His voice doesn’t restrict the progressionist nature of the music. Whilst he is doing his thing, the instruments do theirs, but by his side. Not behind him like they have done in the past. To me, ‘Dopethrone’ represents the first Electric Wizard album to have a truly breathtaking song … ‘We Hate You’. Whilst most people regard the epic self-titled song as the greatest song this band has ever created, I don’t. The jazzed up nature of ‘We Hate You’ is so infectious it’s unbelievable. To me, this is the first occasion when everything has come together perfectly for Electric Wizard. From the hypnotizing vocals, to the awe inspiring atmospheric tones of the guitars. It is all perfectly produced and put together, leading me to congratulate the band on a high level of song writing. Even the lyrics are perfect for the song and transpire the message of hate and negative feelings very well.
“A seed of hate from the day I was born
My right to vengeance from me has been torn
Hopeless and drugged, my black emotions seethe
Loveless and cold, my hate begins to breed.”
Whilst ‘Dopethrone’ isn’t my favourite record from the band, it is a good effort nevertheless. I’d recommend it to any fan of doom or stoner.
After virtually finding a genre for themselves alone with their 1997 album Come My Fanatics, the UK’s Electric Wizard merely went back to work (very slow work, I grant you) and created an album even further off the suicidal deep end. Indeed, Dopethrone was one of those albums that became legendary the moment it was released, anyone who had heard it was awestruck, confounded and frankly at a loss to communicate the depths of it’s sound. And while it really doesn’t improve on the band’s earlier work, it is much wider, offering girth and expanse rather than progression. Which when a band is as menacing as this, is just fine with me, son.
Unbelievably opening with a 3 minute cut (“Vinum Sabbathi,” the shortest for the band ever) we soon slide slowly and somberly into “Funeralopolis,” a more respectable nine minutes, and opening with some wonderfully deceiving light and airy band interplay before that unmistakable Electric Wizard sound emerges: a titanic pile of aural pudding black as the bible and 20 times as thick. Tempos vary here, verging from sloth to Sabbath-ian bounce, but never really become danceable or even jog-able. The album’s centerpiece though, is easily the 16 minutes of “Weird Tales,” a cut bisected into 3 sections (“Electric Frost”/ ”Golgotha”/”Altar Of Melektaus”) that carries all of the band’s past with it (the sloth, the density, but also the same nod towards early seventies synth-prog they’d toyed with somewhat hesitantly earlier on). Actually it takes this monster what seems like minutes to fade out, which is just fine. No atomic bomb blast ever just disappears without a trace, does it?
With “Barbarian” we’re back to somewhat normal doom material (6 or so minutes long, no overt insanity here) and the usual thick as a brick guitar riffs. But don’t you worry, don’t ya fret, another EW epic is right around the bend, and “I, Witchfinder” is right up to the challenge of delivering the sonic overload few can muster. Yeah it dooms, but it also surrounds, sending nasty, depraved specters of sound from all angles, especially during it’s seemingly endless coda. Its never-ending series of phases make this track feel like an album unto itself, which is great value for money when ya think about it. That really only leaves a couple of brief, fairly inconsequential cuts and the 10 minutes title track, which is another massive monument to volume, leaving this writer somewhat at a loss to continue to conjure adjectives to describe this band’s nature. Just hear it, man.
This album kicks the shit out of you and is really quite brilliant. This is probably the band's most well known release but maybe not the best, with the band's 2004 follow-up "We Live" being about just as good, if not better. Continuing with the spaced-out, stoner sound they fully developed on 1997's "Come My Fanatics...", the band couples this with a decidedly old-school doom metal touch that harkens back to the days of classic "Master of Reality" Black Sabbath. All the makings of a doom masterpiece are here: riffs collosal enough to destroy your home, a very thick and heavy low-end, pummeling, tribal-sounding drums and enough cool ideas to keep the whole thing interesting for the album's tripped out hour duration.
"Vinum Sabbathi" is one of the shorter numbers on here and makes a good opening cut. The song opens with some sample from whatever obscure, cult movie and soon introduces a nice catchy riff that does a good job of carrying the whole song. That combined with Jus Oborn's ethereal vocal delivery create the most "stoner" sounding song on the album. "Funeralopolis" follows and is hands down the best fucking track on here. Opening with a simple riff that soon develops into a fucking MONSTER, heavy as fuck and demolishing everything in its way. The song then reaches about midway before it decides to change riffs quite dramatically to a speedy (relatively) section where the song's intensity just goes through the roof and doesn't stop until Jus stops shrieking "nuclear warheads..." and the song draws to a noisy close. The "Weird Tales" track is a fifteen minute epic that opens in the style we've been accustomed to by the last two cuts but soon adopts a more atmospheric, spacey, tripped-out approach, not far removed from the likes of Neurosis (as another review mentioned), but thankfully with the good ol' Wizard sound we all love left intact. The song goes through a lot of phases and most of them kick ass in their own right. "Barbarian" is next up and continues in the vein of "Funeralopolis" except sounding a bit more restrained and not as insane as that track...but it's about twice as fucking heavy! Speaking of fucking heavy, "I, The Witchfinder" has one of the most menacing riffs I've ever heard before in my life. The song may be a bit overlong, but the atmosphere of this song manages to capture my interest for most of the track's eleven minute duration. "The Hills Have Eyes" is a more bluesy guitar-oriented track that manages to be cool as hell without sounding like anything else on the album. It's under a minute, but is still a worthy enough listen to prepare you for the next two: the rather heavy but semi-indistinguishable "We Hate You" and the amazing self-titled collosal closing track that rivals any previous track for the distinction of heaviest.
Reccomended to fans of Neurosis, Sleep and Orange Goblin. Buy this or I'll beat the living shit out of you.
The stoner genre can be extremely good and very bad. When it's done well, it's hard to beat the cool laid back riffs and drumming, the stoned vocals, and the whole loose vibe that surrounds it. When it's done bad however, it's incoherent, really stupid and just plain annoying.
Luckily, Electric Wizard are good. Vinum Sabbathi is a great opener and a good indication of whats too come. The riffs are just piled on top of each other.. Riff after great riff just coming at you. The riffs are all laid back and very bluesy, but there's still plenty of variety in the songs too keep you coming back for more. While Electric Wizard are happy to rock out for the most parts, some of the best parts are when they strip their sound back, creating a kind of wandering open space, kind of similar to Isis and Cult of Luna. That kind of sparse instrumental stuff is only used in a few places, but always to excellent effect, like in the epic Weird Tales/Electric Frost/Golgotha/Altar of Mektaus.
The rythym section is very good in this album. The drums are very simple, but they do their job very well. That would be a big part of what makes this album great, the drumming. The bass is turned up very loud (as you'd expect) and like the drumming, it's content to sit in the background, doubling the guitar lines for the most part. SO it's unobtrusive and fairly braindead, but hey.. this is a stoner rock band, what would you expect?
So all in all, we have a pretty damn good album. The vocals are fairly annoying, bu they're not the focal point of this band. The rythym section is laid back and heavy, and the riffs are heavy then a really heavy thing. Fans of stoner rock should check out this album.