It’s not always a good thing to release landmark albums early in one’s career. Case in point: England’s Electric Wizard, whose two early albums Come My Fanatics… and Dopethrone are rightly hailed as landmarks in the doom metal genre. The style and sound of those recordings have served as the basis for dozens of bands trying to imitate the stoner doom style, but rarely do those bands come close to the same heights.
That also goes for subsequent Electric Wizard albums, as the band has never been able to reclaim those glory days. That’s not to say their additional output has been awful: it just hasn’t lived up to that impossibly high standard. Will that change at all on their ninth studio album, Wizard Bloody Wizard?
Unnecessarily provocative cover aside, there is some fine work on Wizard Bloody Wizard, starting with the crushing opener “See You in Hell.” Jus Oborn and Liz Buckingham crank out massive, fuzz-drenched riffs while Oborn sneers his way through the band’s typical lyrics. Electric Wizard have always reveled in sex, drugs and sleaze, and this outing is no different.
“Necromania” and “Wicked Carcasses” further the band’s cause, with lyrics like “We love your virgin blood, death is a drug” and “her wicked caresses and obscene kisses.” While today’s doom bands prefer to sing about deeper subject matter, Electric Wizard offer either a refreshing or juvenile take on things, depending on your viewpoint.
Musically, the band delivers a heavy slab here, rooted in the proto metal of Blue Cheer and the heaviest blues of Led Zeppelin, with plenty of plodding Black Sabbath overtures mixed in. Recorded in a fairly low-fi manner by Oborn and Buckingham, Wizard Bloody Wizard sounds great, and there is nothing at all to complain about in the mix, with every instrument present.
The issues on this album center around the sense of sameness and repetition that quickly set in. Five of the six songs are cut from the same template. Sure, they’re well played, they sound great, and each on their own stand up well, but aside from the short “The Reaper,” which with its undulating organ and stoned-out groove could easily appear on any Monster Magnet album, nothing really stands out after repeated listens.
Wizard Bloody Wizard is by no means a disappointing record: it just doesn’t set itself above any of Electric Wizard’s other recent albums. Once again, having released two amazing albums early on has set the band up such that they’ll probably never meet those expectations again. While they certainly don’t here, they also haven’t failed, instead delivering a good but not great stoner doom album.
(released November 10, 2017 on Witchfinder/Spinefarm)
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Watch Electric Wizard – “See You In Hell” Video