Sunday 5 November 2017

ALBUM REVIEW: Electric Wizard - "Wizard Bloody Wizard"

By: Ernesto Aguilar

Album Type: Full length
Date Released: 17/11/2017
Label: Witchfinder Records |
Spinefarm Records

 “Wizard Bloody Wizard” transcends whatever the in-thing of the moment is, and focuses instead on musicianship, the album's all-analog approach creates a warm, vintage sound for the songs and on the whole Electric Wizard feels re-energized, whilst  remaining true to their seedy pedigree

"Wizard Bloody Wizard" CD//DD//LP track listing

1. See You In Hell
2. Necromania  
3. Hear The Sirens Scream
4. The Reaper
5. Wicked Caresses
6. Mourning Of The Magicians

The Review:

Doom metal institution Electric Wizard has been around so long that its musical progeny continue to make waves around the world. Its gritty, mystical method to metal has directly and indirectly influenced legions of heavy music performers for over two decades. Consider 2000's "Dopethrone" and what it meant for the genre. Indeed, the English band has been at it over 25 years, plying its brand of pulpy blues/stoner/sludge rock in the vein of Black Sabbath, Blue Cheer and other legends.

The 2014 release "Time to Die" saw the return of original drummer Mark Greening to the team. However, Greening again left, resulting in a pause from recording. Instead the group kept a hectic touring schedule, with new drummer Simon Poole joining Electric Wizard for its new chapter. With its over-the-top artwork and Occult/marijuana/horror themes in "Wizard Bloody Wizard," Electric Wizard is back at last. The next inquisition is whether Electric Wizard can make remarkable music in this period where plenty of acts have, arguably, co-opted it sonically and lyrically, or whether that brand of a seminal group still makes it something to watch.

The album got a preview with the lead-off single and opener, "See You in Hell." Great reason for that: it is easily one of the album's best tracks, with its plodding bass courtesy of Clayton Burgess, distorted guitars and vocals that overwhelm with lyrics rather than volume. Electric Wizard has gotten a reputation over the years for theatrical songwriting that is more Alice Cooper than Cannibal Corpse, and this opener only reinforces it. “This world is crazy and makes me sick/Maybe I'll torture you just for kicks/But I lie here possessed by evil/Forever a servant of the Devil." The delivery is not nearly as threatening as that sounds. In fact, it is entirely listenable in a manner that is reminiscent of the late 1970s' flirtations with evil music themes. Electric Wizard stay true to the seedy pedigree, though it remains accessible.

The more skeptical might find this opening a tad formulaic – Electric Wizard does particular things exceedingly well, and stays with it. However, credit must go to a band with this kind of history, which has mastered its craft in a way that transcends whatever the in-thing of the moment is, and focuses instead on musicianship. Jus Oborn's vocals are as spellbinding as ever, the album's all-analog approach creates a warm, vintage sound for the songs. Electric Wizard feels reenergized to give fans that dig what they do, exactly what they came for.

Still, familiarity for some is sure to breed contempt. You may have heard by now that "Wizard Bloody Wizard" has gotten its share of heat for lackluster moments. A dash of that criticism is fair, though some of that is based in expectation of a louder, lewder Electric Wizard in the vein of 2010's "Black Masses." Here, the group is looking for a more stripped-down performance; hence the aforementioned analog recording and flourishes that harken back to Led Zeppelin era heavy rock. True to that, a song like "Hear The Sirens Scream" offers you a taste of a cleaner vocal and more of the downtempo, bluesier hard rock of the period. "Necromania" opens with a more conventional booming heavy rock riff. It too is an energetic jam, in a fashion that can likely attract new fans, frankly.

One of the few disappointments is that this release is incredibly short, at just under 45 minutes. Electric Wizard try to make up for the brief disc with "Mourning of the Magicians," an 11-minute closing cut that sees Liz Buckingham doing some impressive guitar work. The chorus "see you in Hell" reappears, as if to close the story loop from the opener, and the song's themes, which speak of darkness and betrayal, illuminate the thick rhythm laid out. Although "Wizard Bloody Wizard" is unlikely to be considered Electric Wizard's crowning achievement, it may in fact turn into bait for a new audience into the renaissance of old-school hard rock.

"Wizard Bloody Wizard" is available here

Band info: facebook