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Flash your doobage addled brains back to two thousand and two. Someone's saying to me, "Have you heard this band, Electric Wizard, and their new album, Let Us Prey." "No, I haven't." "Well, you better, because they are just great."
And so I did, I picked up their then new album, 'Let Us Prey' to see what all the fuss was about. Looking back to those days I was still somewhat new to more traditional stylings of doom, probably preferring the more Doom/Death Gothy-ish stuff above all else, and while I can remember enjoying parts of that album it left my hands and found a new home at the local record stores used bin soon enough. I regret stuff like that.
In more recent years I found myself really, really enjoying the traditional style of doom above all other variants of the genre, and when a friend played a song from this album a few months ago at our local watering hole I found myself really, really wondering why I carelessly passed these guys by years earlier. A visit to the local record store and it was mine. Perhaps 'Witchcult Today' is the better record, I don't know, but what I do know is that I absolutely love this album.
With a history dating all the way back to '88 under the banner of Lord of Putrefaction, then as Thy Grief Eternal and eventually just Eternal, before settling on Electric Wizard in '93, these Bournemouth, Dorset, UK doomsters have surely been cranking out some of the finest doom this side of hell for the past twenty years. 'Witchcult Today' was the bands sixth album, released in '07 by Lee Dorian's Rise Above Records, and with lyrically themes centered around occultism and witchcraft it hit the mark with me with that alone, but then toss in some of most heavy badass doom I'd heard in recent memory I knew I'd found a new (yet old) band I'm probably going to be obsessing over for a while to come.
The opener 'Witchcult Today' sets the mood instantly with a crushing dosage of heavy, catchy and slow riffs bookend by a classic psychedelic vibe and ominous vocals that sounded entirely refreshing the first time through, despite the fact I'd probably heard something entirely similar before. 'Dunwich' continues the good vibes with a bit more speed, further explorance (is that a word, whatever) of the trippy psychdelic moods and honestly so much catchiness that this one has already been dubbed my feel good song of the summer. Electric Wizard has such a strong vintage vibe on this one and the songs to follow that it truly feels like something from decades past, and in fact the band used equipment and techniques from the 70's to make it a reality. 'Satanic Rites Of Drugula' bruises onward with its diabolical daze while 'Torquemada 71' will surely be caught in your brain for days after hearing it. 'Black Magic Rituals & Perversions' ignites a more experimental shift for the album while the closer 'Saturnine' is just more of the good stuff we've already heard. Oh, and 'The Chosen Few,' man, 666 all the way, and the short instrumental 'Raptus' is also notable, though I think it just as easily could have been attached to the endings of any of the songs.
I wont lie, music like this is often times all the more enjoyable under the influence of whatever poison you chose to put in your body, but this is one of those albums where you just catch the vibes so strongly that you sort of dope yourself up naturally while journeying through the album. The ultra heavy and entirely memorable riffs, crushing bass, creepy vocals, occasional hammond organ and sitar usage and the sluggish pace mixed with the occult motif really hits home with this listener. Plus the cover artwork and inner photos depicting various scenes from Satanic movies makes it all the more glorious and grim.
You could say I've found a new band to obsess over and obsess I shall. I look forward to hearing more from this band and since when I discover something I really like I always take it slow and only buy a new album from their catalog every few months. That way I can totally absorb and take in everything each release has to offer. With that being said, take a hit from 'Witchcult Today' and bask in the glory of doom.
Originally wrote for, Lunar Hypnosis: http://lunarhypnosis.blogspot.com/
Really can't go wrong with Electric Wizard. Look at all you get: gallons of psychedelic doom, loads of crushing riffs, twisted vocals, retrogressive honesty, a few hits from the bong, maybe. Nope, really can't go wrong with Electric Wizard. Yea, some folks have a little trouble swallowing the doom sandwich artistically comprised by these high-as-balls occultists; their style is generally unconventional and unforgivably bold, a recipe great for attracting many and repelling some. With "Witchcult Today," we see Electric Wizard attempting their most comfortable album ever. There's no deep agenda to deeply reinvent doom/stoner metal or turn the band's uprising on its bum. Nope, just the obscene rites we've all come to expect from this fantastic band, slowly cooked and blessed by the unholy sabbath.
Electric Wizard has a very vintage sounding postulate; "Witchcult Today" was recorded with equipment from the 1970s, in fact. Here, the songs are naturally...better than most of their other releases, really. I find myself enjoying their specific doom metal episodes a little more for whatever reason despite little having changed from the group's original incarnation. Electric Wizard is simply turning your brain into a molten pool of protoplasmic gunk, just like usual. However, none can deny the utter strength and consistency lurching within the album's many seismic creepers. Using the toxic art of crawling doom metal to its maximum effect, Electric Wizard struts through excellent doom numbers with savagely brilliant precision. Jus Osborn's wretched vocals are—considering the usual bane that expels from his voice—easier to digest here than other releases by the band. As I said, "Witchcult Today" feels like Electric Wizard finding a more palatable approach to its own skin than ever before.
One complaint often hurled at Electric Wizard's ceremony here is the repetition and overuse of these basic riffs...well, this is Electric Wizard, so what in the butt were you expecting? Some scale-molesting shindig à la Spawn of Possession? No, shut your goddamn mouth. There are only a few selective guitar cuts swirling in each track, but they're selective cuts for a reason; totally prime and slow-roasted echoes of distorted gloom resonate in the intoxicated strings as nature originally intended. Specifically, the mentionable moments are almost everywhere: the chorus of "Dunwich" is catchy and diabolical, "Satanic Rites of Drugula" tramples on in its devilish daze from start to finish, and you'll have the whole pie called "Torquemada 71" bouncing around your head for days. The record’s longer anthems march on and on in a drug-fueled escapade of pure damnation and darkness with only a handful of instrumental blueprints per song, and it’s really amazing how well tools like repetition and atmosphere are utilized so magnificently here.
"Black Magic Rituals and Perversions," clocking in at eleven minutes of samples and creepy guitar work, is, however, a little too much; a cool interlude, but certainly not worthy of its ungodly length. Yea, I know Electric Wizard has an occasional knack for instrumental weirdness with ambient touches or whatever, but this just feels excessive. Thankfully, the remaining portions of "Witchcult Today" remain stellar and honest through stomping scenes of Hell like "The Chosen Few" or butchering, foggy malevolence occupying the essence of the title slice. The other tunes are utterly fantastic, gripping with the core elements of psychedelic doom metal at its most stoned and volatile. One could reasonably argue that “Witchcult Today” is Electric Wizard’s crowning achievement, and I would order no protest if declared so.
This review was written for: www.Thrashpit.com
Dunwich saves this album, which, in its own right, is actually rather decent for a doom metal album. For one, it's been recorded using '70s equipment. That alone should maximize the Sabbathization of Electric Wizard, correct? Yes, now they just need to rename themselves Electric Sabbath.
Not by far. The whole album actually PEAKS at Dunwich, to the point it should have been the eponymous track. Yet, still, as I stated so strongly in the Dopethrone review, Electric Wizard has one minor flaw that just might be what prevents them from true metal breakout- they **really** cannot finish a song. Dunwich, the peak of the album, peaks itself at about 1:00 in. After 2 minutes, the song just repeats itself. That's the way most of the other tracks go on this album as well as Black Masses. In fact, it's almost become a staple of El Wiz that most of their songs start off for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes of original riffery and vocals and end with a repeating riff and often the same line chanted over and over and over and over and over and over and over for about 6 or 7. Sadly enough, any Black Sabbath-styled sound Electric Wizard might've been shooting for with Witchcult Today is subsequently killed off because of this.
No, Witchcult Today is a fine album by all regards. In fact, if you have time to kill (or stone), this is your album. It has more light-ended guitars that defines this third era of Electric Wizard without being overly heavy as Black Masses is. Still, unless you are a vinyl-exclusive metal head or El Wiz fanatic, it is best to simply stick to YouTube or Daily Motion to listen to these songs if you are interested. And if you're expecting Witchcult Today to be as heavy as Dopethrone or Come My Fanatics..., I will warn you now- it is not. Because '70s recording equipment was of a lower quality than modern items, while it may have been recorded as heavy as Dopethrone, it comes out almost soft and even a tad bit fuzzy at times. No insult to the Wizard, but opting for older sound equipment means that there is a price to pay.
Overall, it is decent, and even good at times. However, if you can't stand repetition, be sure to skip to the next song after the first three minutes play.
So.. Electric Wizard. This group have been praised to the sky by many many many of my friends. This should be awesome. Really something spectacular. So I thought, why not check out something from these guys? I did, and it was Witchcult Today I was recommended.. Along all the other albums.
So what is this all about? Electric Wizard are from England, and they've been around since 1998 and have since released seven albums, this being their sixth. All I can say after listening is.. What the hell?
This record is just.. Bad. I mean, Liz is pretty hot, but I do not see her when I am listening to this. It's a long journey through boredom. I felt like I was thrown into a cauldron somewhere, but what was in it with me wasn't sweet, it was sour spices.
Throughout this album (except from when listening to Dunwich) I just wished it to end.. Which it finally did after about an hour. Waste of time. It's an hour of decent riffs, just being played over and over again with some really annoying vocals put right behind the guitars. The vocals are clean and the guy singing really sounds like he wants to die, because life is so tight and pointless.. And he is pretty good at repeating him in these songs, making it even more annoying. It sounds like these guys had to fill in those vocals part to try and variate from the boring and endless riffing, but it doesn't help at all. Also, some small guitar gimmicks are being played along the riffs in the end of the songs, just to last them a little longer.. But why?!
The bass on this album is unfortunately not very present, and I would have loved if it could do something, come up with some solos or anything just to put some variaton from the vocals and riffing. I could say about the drumming, it's present though, but just hiding behind the guitar and singing. I guess these guys were really stoned and their manager came in "durr, you have to release a new album" and this was the result, pure filling boredom.
The production of the album.. It sounds like being in a cauldron, there is this kind of "round" sound to it, the guitar and vocals are at same stage, but clear enough, while the bass and drums are put in the background. The production could be better though, I feel like I am getting in a trance where I will just end up sleep.
I don't have much more to say about this album other than I really wasted my time listening to it, and that you probably will as well. This is just another overrated band, and trust me, I've tried to like this, but I simply can't. The boring vocals and riffs, the uncreative songwriting with too many repetitions parts are just too much. Along that, the songs are just forgettable, and what you remember (like the consistant "The Chosen Few", "Bloodlust, druglust, Count Drugula arise..." and "Our witchcult grows...") is really something you want to forget.
There are much better doom releases out there, go get them, this is just..
"Witchcult Today" is probably the most ironic title that Electric Wizard could have come up with for this album. It is without doubt the most retro sounding album of 2007. This no doubt has a lot to do with them only using analogue equipment whilst recording at the equally lo-fi Toe Rag Studios in London. Authenticity is definitely the main focus of this release and the final result speaks for itself. If a copy of this album fell through a vortex and landed in the year 1973, no-one would suspect a thing.
These new tracks return once again to the cult of drugged-out guitar bands that were around before the dawn of extreme metal, and so they all conform to the old school structures as well. Prominent choruses, Hammond organ bridges and long guitar solos form the backbone of the tracks. This is the most obvious difference to earlier albums, as every track keeps the music going forward in a development of riffs. There are still a few breakdowns and descents into chaos, but these are used as back-up to a guitar solo rather than being used as a cheap fade-out for a track that had no ending written for it.
It might not be a landmark release in the same way as 2000's soul-crushing Dopethrone, but it does still present some interesting changes from previous Electric Wizard records. The sound is much smoother with the guitars steeped in a weighty "fuzz" rather than the sharp, abrasive crackles of previous albums. Jus Oborn's vocals pay greater heed to that previously overlooked idea of melody too: coming one step closer to Ozzy and further away from the tortured ravings of a man who has smoked one too many bong hits. The Sabbath comparison was inevitable at some point in this review, and something that the band clearly embraces themselves. The first track even opens with the lyrics “Come fanatics, come to the Sabbath”, just to really make sure they get the point across.
Witchcult Today is Electric Wizard's most accessible album to date. A few of the standout tracks could have made great singles too, in a different time when people actually bought singles. The Chosen Few in particular has a classic hook that would make it a massive radio hit, if only satan was allowed to DJ for the BBC. Witchcult Today could potentially mark a turning point in Electric Wizard's career to a more commercial sound, but right now they have a solid foundation, a strong line up, and another high quality album to build on.
(written for Blast!zine issue one: http://www.myspace.com/blastzine)
After their generally agreed upon peak, Electric Wizard changed up their sound with Let us Prey and We Live. These changes were met with mixed reactions by fans and neither was ever viewed with anything close to the reverential air that pervaded Dopethrone’s public image. Enter Witchcult Today, equally a back to the roots album and a continuation of the path taken by its predecessor.
Stylistically, Witchcult Today falls somewhere between the two main eras. The songs are darker again, the guitars messier than they’ve been since the turn of the millennium, but it’s nowhere near as hazy as Dopethrone, and the entire affair retains quite a bit of the clarity that it recently acquired. As has already been established, the main characteristic of Witchcult Today isn’t its dark and dense atmosphere, but neither is it the more surreal, experimental tones of the two prior albums. Instead, the whole thing adds a momentous atmosphere of fun to the proceedings. Don’t worry, this isn’t a parody of what’s come before, and I sincerely promise that there aren’t any ballads. All the same, an undeniable confident swagger has entered the Wizard’s sound, and it’s certainly not a negative development.
This is the first album were Liz Buckingham actually contributed to the writing, and it shows a good deal. The guitar parts maintain their intricacy from We Live, but detuned monoliths are just as, if not more, common. The solos seem to evolve on each album, from the barely discernable, flashes of leads on Dopethrone to the far more complex affairs on that album’s successors, and Witchcult is no exception. Again, though, this greater guitar complexity leaves the bass in a backseat role. The drumming is bold and rhythmic, while remaining just loose enough to lay down immense grooves for everything else to follow.
No longer are Oborn’s vocals in the midst of the guitars, now they frequently fly above, although there’re notable exceptions to this. His voice is clean and powerful, utterly devoid of the occasional strains it exhibited on this album’s predecessor. The lyrics are excellent, precise and unpretentious, yet packed with chilling and effective imagery. Dunwhich bears one of the best verse on the album:
“Child of Dunwhich rise,
You have your father’s eyes,
Child of Dunwhich rise,
End this world that you despise.”
To those that have read the Lovecraft tale the song is evidently based on, the second line is nothing short of brilliant.
In a perplexing turn of events, the album starts out with one of the weakest cuts. The title track is decent, but lacks the power to really deserve its eight minute length. The following track, Dunwhich, however, is an absolute behemoth. The main riff is driving, crushingly heavy and penetratingly catchy at the same time. The following track, Satanic Rites of Drugula, has several great riffs and excellent vocals. It also has the hilariously fitting line: “Druglust! Bloodlust! Count Drugula arise!”
After a relatively pointless interlude, things resume with The Chosen Few. I’m unsure as to this song’s relationship to the Let us Prey track A Chosen Few, mostly due to the latter’s lack of lyrics and harsher vocals. Either way, this track is nothing short of breathtaking. The riff is intriguing, and the song overall is quite possibly the most epic that the Wizard’s ever done. The melody during the majority of the verses is superb, and the lyrics and their delivery are simply excellent:
“The chosen few, look up to the sky
The chosen few, waiting for the sign
The chosen few, still children of the grave
My favorite Electric Wizard song? Probably not, but it’s in the top five or so. The next track, Torquemada 71, opens with fuzz that gives way to an incredibly distinctive riff/melody. The vocals are strong during the chorus, but the lyrics seem somewhat weak, perhaps because I can’t help comparing it to the absolutely painful masterpiece that was I, The Witchfinder.
Black Magic Rituals & Perversions is an essentially ambient track. It starts off extremely strong. The drums are the most active part of the music, with the guitars playing a highly simple riff while effects generate the majority of the dark, ritualistic mood. A speaker eventually enters, speaking what I presume to be Latin and engaging in what I assume to be some sort of ritual involving black magic and various forms of perversion. For a time, everything’s excellent. The whole thing has a majestic, evil feel and is absolutely riveting…and then it goes on, and on, and on. This is a track that would’ve been slightly overlong at half its length and by the time everything’s receded and the words alone carry it, you’re more than ready for the stripped down parody of the opening few minutes to end.
Saturnine is a very competent closer, complete with a strong solo near the beginning and good lead work throughout. The whole thing, despite the dark lyrics, has more of a surreal and melancholy feel than a genuinely dark one. The vocals reflect this, and the chorus is a definite high point. The ending of the song features an amusing throwback to the Let us Prey closer, Priestess of Mars, which sheds some new light on the preceding lines.
Witchcult Today isn’t necessarily the return to form it’s often labeled as, nor is it a true continuation of their previous path. It’s a highly competent album, one with several remarkable cuts, and also one that only occasionally overstays its welcome. A strong addition to Electric Wizard’s discography, even if it’s not the returning, stoned savior that some seemed to be expecting.
As soon as you say the name of the genre 'doom metal', chances are the name of Electric Wizard will immediately spring to mind (if the person is familiar with the genre, of course). Ever since Come My Fanatics and Dopethrone, they've been hailed as the heaviest band ever, and almost made the mainstream a few times because of that title. Ever since Let Us Prey, however, they've toned down the heaviness, and went off to do their own thing. Which is pretty respectable, showing they're not just one trick ponies. However, in doing this, I've personally held the belief that ever since that album, they've been getting progressively less interesting as they've went on.
Now that's probably quite a controversial thought, but it's how I feel. This album kind of proves my point. Overall, it's a lot less interesting than We Live (which was still great, despite it not being their best). Anyway, I'll continue reviewing this as if it was the only album they've made, to avoid fanboy-esque bias. It starts off promising, with the seven minute title track, which displays a typical doom metal riff, as well as some undertones of hammond organ. I really like the organ's presence on the album, since it gives the album a really nostalgic kind of feel, as well as enhancing the witchcraft theme the album has going on. It's almost like a concept album.
Listening to said riff, though, there's something missing. It's a lot less heavy than things they've done in the past. Not that there's a problem with that, since they've shown they don't need to be overly heavy to make some brilliant tracks (see 'Mountains of Mars', 'The Hills Have Eyes' and 'Raptus' on this very album). But the lack of heaviness isn't compensated for. The whole track seems uninspired and uninteresting. It has some good things going for it, but ultimately it doesn't make a very good impression, which is something every opening track should aspire to do.
Unfortunately, I have the same gripe with the rest of the album. The whole thing feels like it's been done before (this is emphasized with a song called "A Chosen Few". There was a song on Let us Prey named "The Chosen Few") . Songs like "Dunwich" and "Satanic Rites of Drugula" are totally awesome, and "Raptus" is quite a gorgeous little interlude, but otherwise, nothing sticks out. On my first listen of this, "Torquemada 71", "Black Magic Rituals and Perversions" and "A Chosen Few" all blended together, and it taken me a few spins to get used to them.
Can I recommend this album? I can. Despite a lot of negative things going for it, it's still a pretty interesting doom album. In fact, it's still a good deal better than a lot of recent doom and sludge acts, but if you want to get into Electric Wizard, I recommend starting with their debut, and working your way forward to this. You may end up disappointed by this, but it'll give you a more pleasant feeling than starting here. Which I did.
While probably not as much of a cult success as "Dopethrone", Witchcult Today definitely fits as one of the best doom metal albums I've heard in a while. The title track maintains a driving, gloomy, brooding riff (as is the staple of the genre), over which, Oborn lays clearer vocals than usual, very audible drums, and a very bassy, mellow sound, where the guitars really, really drag. A couple solos are actually audible, unusual for the genre, yet appealing. This basic formula is obeyed for most of the album, which is certainly a good thing. The title track is, however, by no means the standard by which the album should be judged. In fact, as soon as Dunwich, the second track, the album had already eclipsed by initial opinion. With an insanely catchy, yet draggy riff, the song never gets stale - Oborn delivers one of the best vocal performances I've ever heard him give. When the guitar solos hit, they do not seem out of place - they seem like a very natural addition to the song. Dunwich is not only a highlight of the album, but perhaps one of the better songs of their career. But not to be outdone, Satanic Rites of Drugula bursts in, with a riff that plods along gloomily, yet deliberately... "Harmony" is not a word commonly associated with Doom, who knew that it could make an already heavy song that much heavier? Rob Al-Issa delivers thick, meaty bass, much like he's done throughout his tenure with Wizard, while Rutter lays down driving drum lines, and Madam Buckingham taunts us with her ability.
"Bloodlust... drugluast... Count Drugula, arise!"
It's tracks like this that make me wonder why Doom never caught on. Then it occurred to me that to most, Doom is perceived as merely a laborious, slow-motion cacophony... Give them a copy of Witchcult, and you might just change their minds.
Raptus, however, IS cacophony, although is atmospheric nonetheless.
The Chosen Few is your archetypical Wizard track, with awesome, heavy riffing, with atmospheric solos and near-flawless rhythm. Torqumada 71 driving, heavy, plodding riff... Super-heavy... Heavy, without sacrificing groove and style. Perhaps I sense a bit of blues in the bassline?
Black Magic Rituals & Perversions... About five minutes longer than it should have been. Don't knock my taste for long songs, I love 2112, Lizard, etc. and am ecstatic that they aren't a second shorter. But it's almost as if the Obornaut(TM) has run out of ideas, and decides to milk the cacophony cow for all its worth. Thankfully, Saturnine is a definite improvement. Length done RIGHT. Did you hear that, Mr. Oborn? Keep it like this when you run out of ideas. Another solid vocal performance, oddly enough. Despite its length, and the relatively repetitive nature of doom/stoner metal, it has never gotten stale either...
Witchcult Today is a slight change from Wizard of past, but is, of course, by no means radically different... It's as brooding, dark, and atmospheric as any other Doom out there, and is more accessible for novices to the genre. So buy (or otherwise "acquire") a copy, and spread the doom during this fine time of year.
Experimentation has run out and formulated patterns are now the normality of Electric Wizard records. Whilst, in the past, records like ‘Dopethrone’ set out changing the style of this British band, ‘Witchcult Today’ sets about cementing the style that has been obtained since then. Whilst this isn’t necessarily a negative stand point to take for Electric Wizard, ‘Witchcult Today’ slips back in to a few old habits that make it not as successful as the previous effort ‘We Live’, which is probably my favourite record from this Dorset act. However, in the minds of the public, Electric Wizard, with this effort and previous one’s before it, are going from strength to strength and showcasing the awesome ability they have which makes them a leading stoner act in anyone’s mind. Whilst the reputation of this band doesn’t rest on this record, I considered this to be a significant make or break moment for the band because the last effort was their best, in my eyes, and would have been hard to follow. The beginnings of this record didn’t give me much hope for a successor to the throne, but as it progresses, it builds into a fabulous outing and one worth purchasing for anyone looking to get into doom/stoner or just wishing to build their Electric Wizard collection.
As I said, the title track ‘Witchcult Today’ didn’t give me much hope for this record, but it would seem I judged it a little too early. The opening track doesn’t showcase the abilities of any of the Electric Wizard members very well. Whilst it isn’t the absolute lowlight in terms of terrible songs during their career, it isn’t as strong as I was expecting, especially for an opening song to a new album! Whilst the patterns of previous records still exist, the sound has gone back to the days when Electric Wizard came across as lacklustre or even lazy. Of course, the stoner genre is meant to portray a sense of slow durability and gradual build ups through a more mellowed out sound, but the title track doesn’t do that as well as some of the other songs do, like ‘Dunwich’ which it’s catchy drum patterns or ‘Satanic Rites Of Drugula’ which is bound to have everyone singing along to the crazy lyrics and frequently catchy vocals for example. As one might be able to tell, the improvement on this record in comparison to the previous is mainly in the catchy nature of the songs. The two which have already been mentioned really stand out for there superb use of Jus’ vocals, which are on top form after the opening song, and the thick layered guitar riffs which produce some of the best moments in Electric Wizard’s glittering and illustrious career which has been filled to the brim with class moments and outrageously sing-a-long lyrics about all sorts of ideas and themes. Again, take ‘Dunwich’ or ‘Satanic Rites Of Drugula’ for example, the lyrics mean nothing to me, but still have me singing along because of the infectious nature of Jus’ vocals and his brilliant portrayal of lyrical themes through his typical performance which is of the highest order.
“child of Dunwich rise
you have your fathers eyes
child of Dunwich rise
end the world that you despise.”
“strung out on blood I hunt the streets at night
terror from the sky, in batform I strike
your naked body dragged to my darkened crypt
I tie you up, dope you up then your blood I sip
The lyrics are once again deceiving like they have been on previous records, which perhaps should make one expect this sort of tendency to deceive, but Electric Wizard are good at covering all bases. Whilst the guitar/vocal performance of Jus, the other guitar performance from Liz and the thick bass performance from Rob lead the audience to believe this is one doped up, loved up and upbeat record, the lyrics suggest something more rigid and sinister at the root of Electric Wizard’s emotive music. The bass being the only instrumental to really portray the dark side of the music we have, although the double bass on the drums, in particular, does cement the sound the bass portrays, the lyrics do much to back them up in there hair raising, spine tingling showcase of epic proportions. On occasions, in the past, Electric Wizard haven’t utilized the bass as well as they could have but not here. ‘Witchcult Today’ showcases a wonderful amount of bass, particularly on songs like ‘The Chosen Few’ which allows the bass to lead the show quite often. In terms of other performances the guitarists, Jus and Liz, stand out too. The performances, especially in terms of ground work in building up the atmospheres which vary throughout and the solo work produced on this record is really top notch. Again, take ‘The Chosen Few’ as an example. The vocals, which are again catchy, don’t have as much influence on this song. The thick distortion and dark solos really do well in taking the lead at the front where the vocals would normally do the work. One feels that on previous encounters, Electric Wizard would rely too heavily on Jus’ vocal abilities, but ‘Witchcult Today’ doesn’t do that. Although this isn’t the most experimental record of theirs, it does begin to allow the instrumental sections to play more of a role in leading the way, as opposed to only allowing the vocals to do this. Fans of the lengthy songs get there fill too, but only at the end of the album when Electric Wizard churn out to 10 minute plus epics. Not the best, but a good outing nevertheless.
The sinister doomsters Electric Wizard are back with another monstrous slab of slow, brain bludgeoning riffs and grooves, fuzzed to the extreme and laced in sumptuous psychedelic overtones.
As with all Electric Wizard albums `Witchcult Today' has a unique atmosphere which is rather good indeed especially when every band these days sounds exactly the same with too much compression and triggered drums, thankfully both these things are notable in absence and instead with have that splendid atmosphere invoking images of black masses, horror movies, sideburns, lovecraftians tales and sabbaths.
The great riffs on the album, the tasteful and effective layering of the guitars and an equally compelling chorus hook makes this album a milestone in the history of Doom Metal. After the atmospheric and often psychedelic flow of "Black Magic Rituals" the album closes with the excellent "Saturnine", which thunders through a catchy main hook and ends with an all-out jam full of fuzzy soloing, trancelike sounds and atmospherics and of course a driving groove to earth it all.
Jus Oborn's vocals receive much more focus on this release and its perhaps his best performance yet keeping with the eerie and atmospheric vibe of the album. The drums and bass keep the groove loosely and imaginatively in places, exactly what's required.
The most notable aspect of `Witchcult Today' is the sludgy 70´s production, as well as the texture and atmosphere that are created from it. The lo-fi guitars will definitely rip through any cheap headphones if the listener is foolish enough to sacrifice them, but obviously in a much different way than black metal style guitars would. The bass is ludicrously overpowering, but just right by Doom Metal's standards, and has a very strange but cool effect on the listener.
This music is truly when horror, magick & mistery become a trance experience that change your life.
When I first spun this album, I thought to myself "Ah, shit, what are they doing this time?" For, you see, Electric Wizard has a long history of jerking the listener's emotions around by moving from one atmosphere, to another, while still keeping fundamental identifying marks in the albums (these would be b-film references, the word "dopesmoke" in every song, and various obscure occult descriptions).
So, for me, this album began as a slight disappointment, because I was not expecting such sixties singin, over such heavy music.
Then I started actually listening to it... Makes a huge difference. You start to realize that some of the simplicity is what makes it great. Every single Electric Wizard album thus far has been completely unique of others, and this one is a fresh sound that I've not heard in other albums. The vocals are howls of an almost Sabbath tone, and sound like some ghastly stoner zombie yelling in ghastly stoner agony. Imagine it, people... it's there.
My favorite song has to be The Satanic Rites of Count Drugula, because it has one of the catchier choruses, some hilarious lyrics, and, as always, plenty of references to 'dopesmoke' (always written as one word).
Some of the music reminds me of what Jimi Hendrix would do if he were in a doom metal band, specifically the riff at the beginning of Dunwich. It just grooves, and grooves really help the sound of this album, since it has an altogether sixties feeling to it.
Now, the only real problem I have with this album is some of the 90-minute fade-out sequences in a couple of the songs (Witchcult, Drugula, Chosen Few). These can be a turn-off to someone who hasn't heard the album, and is trying to get a good feel for it. Fortunately, when you are better acquainted with the album, you find it less harrowing to the nerves each time.
All around worthwhile album, and definitely doomy. I'd say that, for some folks at least, this isn't an album you should judge by your first impression. Let it grow on you.
If there's one way to get a group of people creaming their pants, just mention this band. In the short amount of time it's been out, Witchcult Today has already established itself as some sort of modern classic, an album that will conquer Jerusalem and destroy the Dopethrone. And while I wouldn't say that it sucks (as it's certainly a good record), I would advice you all to take a few deep breaths, have some valium or whatever, and see this for what it is: A good, but extremely cliched record that is 'doomy' but not particularly amazing.
I'm happy with that summary, but while I'd be content leaving it like that I guess some more detail is needed. While Osborn can still deliver some absolutely crushing riffage- Dunwich is probably the heaviest song EW (or indeed anyone else) has ever written- it just doesn't seem as inspired, and, well, stoned as Dopethrone and the debut were. Whereas Dopethrone had you coughing up large chunks of hash, this has you making a cup of coffee.. THAT IS EXTRA STRONG. Or something.
Indeed, a lot about this record (except for the aforementioned Dunwich, which slays hard) suggests a lack of inspiration on EW's part. The doom riffs are enjoyable, but most aren't all heavy, and they are really, really cliched- true, there's only so many slow sabbath-worshipping riffs out there you can play, but still, come on guys! Just because you tune your guitars down to G doesn't mean all of those tired riffs become fresh. While there's a few enjoyable riffs in this album (and when they nail 'em, they sound sweet), a lot of it sounds quite tired. Most follow a pretty boring, pretty similar rhythm (examples: Torquemada 71's intro, the beginning of the title track), and a lot just float around- riffs that go in your ear and straight out the other.
Basically, there's just no edge to this. Huge (HUGE) guitar tone aside, this isn't the same loose/out of time, very very very stoned band that dropped some of their earlier albums. Osborn's vocals, never the strongest point of this band, have gotten louder and possibly more annoying, and the whole album in general is one long, weary slog, and don't get me started on the abominable attempt at ambient that is 'Black Magic Rituals...'.
So, would I recommend you get this? Well, it's pretty much up to you. A bored and uninspired Electric Wizard is still better then 90% of all over doom bands. And Dunwich and Drugula are both pretty sweet. Not terrible, and it IS a lesson on awesome doom metal production, but you're not missing out on much if you don't get this.
Jus Oborn and his co-cultists have finally returned from their smoked doped-out chasms with a new album. When the Electric Wizard delivered a montrosity, sonic equivalent of ton-of-bricks, that is called Dopethrone, they probably didn't in their fucked-up state of mind realise what an unsurpassable slug of dirge they lumped us. To this day it quite frankly impossible to find a doom metal album as perfect, yet as unforgiving as Dopethrone is.
Therefore it is hard to decide what to expect from their newest output. In between came Let Us Prey and We Live, but from retrospect both fall far from Dopethrone. Let Us Prey was an uneven package, apparantely reflecting the bands uncertain situation at the moment. We Live was much better, featured a new line-up and a fresh atmosphere, but still lukewarm as a whole.
Witchcult Today is therefore both a relief and a disappointment. Here the EW have succesfully caught the crackling atmosphere of 70s with their vintage amps and equipment. Apparently the album was recorded at some obscure studio, consisting of solely analogue equipment. Never ever have the Wizard been as cathcy and compromising as now. Although the change of sound is a complete opposite to what was heard on We Live, a true echo from Birmingham of 1970, Witchcult Today is actually very easy for the unwary ear.
Oborn's wailing is now higher and more Sabbathy than ever. No longer are the vocals buried under the crushing wall of guitars and bass, it is now even possible to make sense of the lyrics, though which make as little sense themselves as ever. Soloing and riffing of the axes has never been catchier, nor is it as sloppy as it sometimes was on Dopethrone. And what struck me most, Oborn (apparently, credits are not too clear) has written choruses! Not that they haven't been there before, but fuck me if you can't remember the chorus of basically every song on the album (except for the sample-instrumental mayhem that is Black Magic Rituals & Perversions) after two listens. The title track, Dunwich, Torquemada 71 and Saturnine are especially prime examples.
This is an album that sinks to the deepest bowels of your mind right from the start and will keep you in your grip for the umpteenth listen. Then again it forces you to think, this is it then? This was the new Electric Wizard, the slaves to THC at their best? Witchcult Today may not be as unforgivingly crushing experience as Dopethrone was. Yet it is as wicked and fucked up as its makers are. This is again a different path for Electric Wizard, and definitely not a bad path.
Witchcult Today is an album that makes you want to hate it for its simplicity at first sight and on the other hand love it for its deadly catchiness and addictivity. A truly fantastic album.
Electric Wizard have always been a rather off-kilter band, helping to pave the way for a more groove-oriented and psychedelic influenced doom metal alongside the quintessential stoner band Sleep, as a result their music has always been monstrously heavy, fuzzed out and as a result rather inaccessible. Despite this they've gained quite the following and when such a prolific band releases an album like "Witchcult Today", over a decade after their initial formation, you can see why; they're a fucking solid band. They pay no heed to trends and such; they just like to get stoned off their tits and rock the fuck out which is pretty fuckin' metal really. "Witchcult Today" is yet another strong release, and whilst they've definitely turned down the amps and stopped Jus Oborn from slurring through a sheet of aluminium when he sings, they're still pumping out some heavy as fuck stoner doom. Most notable is the sheer catchiness of the songs on this album, they haven't compromised song length but I'll be damned if the chorus to "Dunwich" won't burrow headlong into skull and rape your tender cerebral flesh with its infectious grooves and catchy lyrics.
"Dunwich" has more than just a catchy chorus however, the main riff being massively heavy but so simple you will never forget it and no doubt you'll end up humming it to yourself time and time again. The overall riff construction for the song rather adept actually, this can probably be attributed to the song have a respectable amount of momentum to it which allows for the riffs to unfold one after the other with smooth transitions. "Satanic Rites of Drugula" has potentially the most awesome song title ever written, simplistic stoner puns are hilarious no matter what substance you're on. Whilst being a step down in speed the intensity of the main riff is put up to 11, this combined with Jus Oborn wailing "BLOODLUST! DRUGLUST! COUNT DRUGULAA ARIIIIIIIIIIISE" in the chorus makes for easily the best song on the album. If that wasn't enough the meandering psychedelic solo is transcendental to say the least; it's movement through the last legs of the song conjure images of rolling smoke going from peaceful laminar flow into a spiralling, out of control turbulent mess with no sense of direction, momentum propelling it forward with little regard for it's destination. "The Chosen Few" has a similar style of lead guitar work throughout the entirety of the song which provides an amusing but intellectual juxtaposition to the rather minimalist riffing and repetitive lyrics. "Torquemada 71" is a strong track with some rather inane lyrics about inquisitions, countess bathory and similarly themed whacked out shit.
To be frank, there are few weak spots in this album. "Black Magic Rituals and Perversions" continues the tradition of an ambient track coming out of left field, for the whole cult-theme of the album it makes sense but clocking in at around 11 minutes is overkill. Some may feel the songs are too short when compared to previous releases or that the guitar tone has weakened too much, and at times I agree because nothing beats "Dopethrone" when it comes to epitomising stoner-doom at it's most ludicrously heavy and most 'stoner' sounding, except perhaps "Dopesmoker" but that's neither here nor there really. Most importantly though is that with this release Electric Wizard aren't attempting to be revolutionary nor do they reinvent the genre, it's a case of a prolific band simply reinstating their outright fucking awesome-ness with yet another album that makes the more over-rated releases of 2007 soil their lace panties and scurry away into the shadows.
When you listen to "Witchcult Today" you're getting one solid slab of stoner-doom that does not fail to live up to the reputation that Electric Wizard has established over the many years they've been playing. The riffs, the lyrics, the instrumentation; they're all there in full force and nothing falls short of the mark. If you enjoyed the other fantastic doom releases of 2007 from High on Fire and Candlemass, then this is yet another album you can add to your collection with little fear of regret.
Electric Wizard blew me away with Dopethrone. To this day there’s nothing quite like that album. Subsequent releases have seen a completely new line up with the exception of mainman Jus Oborne and while good, were not anywhere close to their early releases.
Title song Witchcult Today starts proceedings and it’s a typical crawling guitar riff and snail paced tempo. The change is in the vocals which are noticeably more prominent in the mix. Also, it seems like the band is building on the grooves here and as the song rumbles to a conclusion with a neat bass line at the end I didn’t realise that almost eight minutes had passed. There’s something a bit different about this one but I’ll get to that later. Dunwich is a lot more up tempo (comparatively). It comes across a bit like a slowed down Misfits song with the vocals sounding a little bit like uncle Glenn. Essentially though, it’s the same riff played for 5 minutes with a whole bunch of stuff happening in layers of lo-fi fuzz underneath it and you’ll either love it or hate it.
Satanic Rites of Drugula sounds like the perfect soundtrack to a bad trip and I think it’s probably intended to be that way. This is the aural essence of a bad trip somehow distilled into sound. Luckily it’s over in about six minutes and is the closest that things get to the oppressive nature of Dopethrone. Raptus is a short instrumental piece that gives this reviewer a chance to catch his breath and we’re off into The Chosen Few. If the three songs preceding this were pretty damn good, this one is spectacular. Lengthy, with some laid back fuzzed out grooves, three enormous crawling riffs and a melodic lead guitar part that threatens to drown in the fuzz but somehow keeps it’s head above water. Also, before I forget, there’s a pretty memorable vocal line here. Now, that’s a bit of a change.
Torquemada 71 is heavy. Its riffs crash into each other and there’s a real bass heavy bottom end to this song that makes it quite overwhelming but some of the momentum is lost as the song switches to a softer mode with the rhythm section jamming away and the guitars simply meandering before a conclusion that sounds like some 70s rock band’s live jam. A bit hit and miss there.
The album closes out with two songs that might well determine how you like this album. They’re both lengthy and quite different in feel to each other. The first, Black Magic Rituals and Perversions has an ambient feel as the band slowly build a wall of fuzzed out drone with various effects like crickets and forest sounds popping up. The second half of the song is more percussion led as the guitars swirl and the band give up on the heaviness factor to build an ambient piece. This largely succeeds as the song doesn’t become background music. At the same time it sounds a little self indulgent and meanders a good deal even for the Wizard. Album closer Saturnine though is a spaced out and fuzzy rock song with a central riff that’s all Black Sabbath but the grooves seem more like Hawkwind. The ending reminds me a bit of early Monster Magnet in it’s one recurring bass line and sludgy lo-fi feel of the guitars and the song is definitely another highlight and ends the album perfectly.
Witchcult Today heralds a bit of a change for Electric Wizard. The album benefits with the prominence that the vocals have received and the songs have become a bit more accessible. The unrelenting feeling of claustrophobia has been replaced by a bit of a rock n roll swagger. The band rock out on songs like Dunwich and The Chosen Few albeit in proper Electric Wizard fashion. The biggest change for me though is that Witchcult Today is not a downer. The music is still lo-fi fuzzy doom metal of the stoner persuasion but this time around it seems a bit warmer, friendlier and happier.