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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.