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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.