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Dressed in Black, No Turning Back - 91%

The_Evil_Hat, August 12th, 2009

Electric Wizard changed between every full length, yet never was there a more dramatic change than from their debut self titled, to their second album, Come My Fanatics… On the self-titled, the band was a standard stoner metal band in every aspect; on this, the outfit that released Dopethrone can be seen with perfect clarity. The Wizard’s new persona came out of the oven fully formed, and Come My Fanatics… is without a doubt one of the band’s best works.

The whimsical tone of prior days is gone, replaced by the sea of distortion, lows and dopesmoke that would characterize the band from this point on. Oborn’s guitars are slow and enveloping, near formless, yet powerful all the same. The riffs are slow and, as always, Sabbath derived in nature.

The guitar isn’t the only instrument to reinvent itself on this album. Bagshaw’s bass work is as different from his prior efforts as night and day. He now grooves along with the guitar, occasionally even coming to the forefront and always influencing the sound in one significant way or another. Greening’s drumming here matches the pattern of what it would come to settle into. It’s a far more bombastic, cymbal driven style than he previously employed, but amidst the ocean of guitars it reverts to a similar supporting role.

Oborn’s vocals are far less prominent than they were before – or would be again for many years – but are much improved as well. Before he seemed to be between styles, straining and struggling at times, while excelling at others. The lyrics here are not necessarily improved from the debut, but the change in focus is undeniable. They’ve now donned their mantle of horror tales, surreal atmospheres and cynicism, a style they would always be known for from this day forward. The chorus of Wizard in Black is undoubtedly one of the finest the band’s ever written, and that’s ignoring the unforgettably stage-stealing delivery:

“The eyes of God look upon what he's done,
And the eyes of Man look on and beyond,
I am a god, I am the one,
Into the chaos see my time has begun.”

Wizard in Black, as a whole, is useful in determining the band’s new style. The main riff of the song is incredibly heavy, yet undeniably catchy at the same time, the Sabbath influence and the extremity of the tones and compositions merging to form a style nothing short of excellent. Electric Wizard is suffocatingly dark, but not depressing or wrathful. They’re slow, heavy and atmospheric, without loosing their songwriting charm. The lyrics are dark and simplistic, and yet often beautifully surreal and evocative. Another perfect example’s undoubtedly the, almost rock and roll, “Oh baby, just maybe,” portion of the chorus in Son of Nothing, a hook buried amidst mountains of distortion and apocalyptic imagery.

The first track of the album, Return Trip, is noteworthy for at once being an iconic Electric Wizard song, and yet being unique for violating the first of those aforementioned descriptions. This song bleeds malice from every slow, painful note. There’re only two riffs, both of which are as minimalistic and impenetrable as anything else the band’s ever done. The subject is similar to one often mentioned on the debut, but the outlook is, again, totally changed. On songs like Stone Magnet, the outside world was mentioned as being bleak, but usually as a reason to revel in the new planes revealed by weed. “But look around you, what you got / No hope, no future, no fuckin' job,” is preceded by “Looking all around, the world's a dream / Traveling to places that I have never seen / High up here is where I'm really free.” Return Trip is different. Beneath the supernatural sheen, the song is about the rejection and persecution of the stranger, he who can see beneath the surface and is utterly disillusioned about the world. “The sun burns in the stranger’s eyes / Just one tear before he dies…I hope this fucking world burns away / And I’d kill you all if I had my way.”

Ivixor B / Phase Inducer is the only track on here to truly break the mold, though that’s not to imply that the others blend together, not at all. This track is at once one of the most interesting portions of the album and one of the most pointless. Where’s the distinction? Right there, just where that slash between the two titles is. See it? Ivixor B features a truly weird rendition of an excellent riff. As opposed to those that make up the majority of the album, this isn’t a suffocating tide of distortion and feedback, but rather, mostly due to being guitarless, gives the rest of the track room to breathe, and that it does. Female vocals add a highly interesting atmosphere, while Greening plays what are by far his best passages on the album. Afterwards, after barely a quarter of the track’s length, Phase Inducer arrives, and we get to hear six and a half minutes of mixed silence and lone ambient effects.

Come My Fanatics… represents a completely new sound for the band, one that is dark, cynical and trailblazing. While the style would peak on Dopethrone, this album possesses a completely mature and excellent sound, a band already operating on vistas undreamed of by the vast majority of the genre.