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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)