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Dorset, South West England is the birthplace of Electric Wizard, a now infamous crossover band with huge popularity. Dorset and the South West of England is known for being a popular holiday spot for foreigners and Britons who wish to stay within the country and explore their own backyard. It’s a region of the country that offers a lot of natural beauty and since the year 1993, an adrenaline pumped band by the name of Electric Wizard. It took the band two years from their formation to record and release a debut full-length and in the opinion of many, perhaps the least appealing full-length the band have released to date. In my opinion, 1995’s self-titled debut is the most lacking in terms of character, creativity and performance. Originally formed under the moniker Lord of Putrefaction, Electric Wizard played a different style of crossover music than they do now. It consisted largely of death and doom metal influences. Electric Wizard, on the other hand, fuse the doom and stoner genres together to form a largely uninspired sound by this stage. Fortunately, with the benefit of hindsight, I and many others can state that the band have come on in leaps and bounds since the self-titled snooze fest. I’m not familiar with the works of Lord of Putrefaction, so I cannot state what the work of the band was like in comparison to this new breed. However, I feel that comparisons would probably be inane as the band had obviously taken a drastic new direction at this point in time. A new name, a new brand of music and a new set of fans were what was to come from this change.
The self-titled debut, to me, isn’t a patch on later works. There are several main issues which I have with this work and the few redeeming qualities that there are, aren’t enough to act as a saving grace for this particular piece. Considering the fact that the line-up, bar Jus Oborn, had completely changed, the multiples differences in this band aren’t as surprising as they might have been if the line-up hadn’t altered so drastically. As with Lord of Putrefaction, Jus Oborn takes control of Electric Wizard on guitars, but more importantly, on vocals. The vocals, which aren’t as hypnotizing as they later become, are the best feature of this rather lacklustre effort. One must contribute the fact that this piece isn’t as good because A) The line-up is different. The band needs time to readjust and truly find their sound and B) This is a new style of music for the evolved Lord of Putrefaction. Perfection takes time. As I said, the vocals are the best element of this self-titled work. Take songs like Stone Magnet, for example. Songs such as this clearly show the tremendous ability Jus has on vocals and indicate the beginning of what does turn out to be a very hypnotic career as the leading man behind the microphone. His performances do go from strength to strength, so the fact that his standard of performance isn’t as high on this record as they later become is, in some ways, important. The record is essential listening because it shows the roots of a very talented band.
Whilst the instrumental sections don’t do as much as they could to help Jus in his quest to bring Electric Wizard to the foreground of the metal scene, there are some positives to take. Having said that, one has to remember that Jus himself is on guitar duty, so he cannot be redeemed entirely due to his vocal performance, which is the only outstanding quality of this record. The atmospheric nature of Electric Wizard isn’t, by any means, at it’s peak. The guitars sound laboured and, as they later do, don’t build themselves around the hypnotic nature of Jus’ vocal abilities. The soundscapes sound lazy, which is something that stoner music isn’t unfamiliar with. To me, the vast majority of stoner music sounds lacklustre and lazy. The slow nature isn’t appealing to everyone and whilst I do like a lot of slow music, there needs to be some form of outstanding creativity on guitars, especially and there isn’t. The guitars are poor. The solos do come thick, in particular, and fast, but they’re nothing special in comparison to later material. The bass seems to struggle too. We later learn that the bassist was to be replaced, but not until long after the release of this record, so we do get to see Tim Bagshaw’s performance enhance as time goes on. The bass is often lost in the sea of mediocrity which is spawned by the guitars. The drums aren’t as powerful either. As I said at the beginning of my review, there is no edge, this ultimately turns out to become a snooze fest even though Stone Magnet suggests it might be an inspiring and powerful debut by the Britons. It isn’t until the instrumental song, Mountains Of Mars do we gain some respectability back. The sonic soundscapes caused by mesmerising guitars lead the audience into a corridor of false sense of hope. The underlying tones of beauty are immediately washed away as Behemoth proves to be the opposite of what the title suggests it is. Instead of Electric Wizard putting up the monstrous wall of noise with super sonic sound waves they later become best friends with, they whimper alone and slowly induce the audience into a coma. Lyrically however, Electric Wizard have worked up the type of beauty and rhythm the music can only wish it produced.
“His blackened wings shadow the Earth
This age of fire is his rebirth
Awakened now in these troubled times
He's come to judge us for our crimes
In conclusion, the self-titled debut doesn’t pack quite the same punch as latter records do. Vocally and lyrically, this album begins to show what becomes of the band, but instrumentally Electric Wizard are lacking in true greatness. As disappointing as this album is, I don’t consider it anything other than the beginnings of what went on to be a successful band.