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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.