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Primitive filth from a dark, dark place - 100%

Torwilligous, January 7th, 2009

"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.