30 November 2014

Electric Wizard - Time To Die

Electric Wizard are a band I've heard and read about, although I've not actually heard their music until this blog. I think the reason for that is because they are part of the Doom/Stoner Metal scene and my experiences of that particular genre are bands who reckon wearing either bell-bottoms or any other 70's clothes while rehashing Black Sabbath's best riffs makes them hot shit. No, it doesn't. Mind, I do have a soft spot for Queens Of The Stone Age but they have more of a classic rock vibe to them. Also, I'm primarily a Thrash Metal guy who makes the occasional foray into Death/Grind/Groove Metal as well. So the prospect of listening to songs that can go up to ten minutes in length whilst being played extremely slowly - usually involving one note - was about as appealing as licking the sweat from Susan Boyle's ass crack. Nevereless, it's often suggested I should try new bands so I'm giving this band a go right now.

As one can imagine, Black Sabbath is a prime influence on this genre. Hell, Electric Wizard's name comes from two Black Sabbath songs ("Electric Funeral" and "The Wizard"). This is where it gets confusing - I love the first five Sabs albums - as well as bits and pieces after that but that's a conversation for another time - so ideally, this should be right up my street. But, as mentioned, I was never into the Doom/Stoner/Sludge scene. Down? Nah, perfer Superjoint Ritual (or even Pantera...). Cathedral? 'Witchfinder General' was a great song but not that arsed. Kyuss? Again, more like classic rock. Still, let's see what these guys are like...

We start off with a song called "Incense For The Damned". The intro is one of those sampled news reports over white noise before going into a musical passage that is very reminiscent of  the intro to "Am I Evil?" by Diamond Head, sets the tone nicely, to be honest. Any thoughts that these are gonna be a bunch of Sabbath copyists (or even Diamond Head copyists) dissolve quickly. Nope, what we've got here sounds far heavier and nastier than anything either band could come up with. Vocals are low in the mix but the music...oh my God, it comes right out of Satan's very own cement mixer. This is 'bad trip' music where it's the end of the night, your Missus has buggered off with someone else and you've had too much to drink and smoke. Possibly a few other 'things' too...we've all been there. Funny how a song can keep on getting slower and slower as it goes on. The main riffs sound very reminiscent to "Teenage Kicks" or even a Pink Floyd song called "Echoes" (It was the song that Andrew Lloyd-Webber was supposed to have plagarised when he did the overture to "Phantom Of The Opera". The song is about ten minutes long but it doesn't feel like it.

The title track - "Time To Die" follows, and is a little bit lighter in the sense that it's still heavy but not as dense or as layered as the previous track. Wah-wah pedal on the bass, it's like the ghost of Cliff Burton has rolled in with a few K's of pot and we're all getting lifted!

"I Am Nothing" brings it's ass round with an ominous guitar riff and marching snare drums. It's quite a prominent riff which snares you like a mantra. This really is some kind of nightmarish music. A nightmare of drowning in bourbon and weed. The outro is dragged out something fierce, very slow and demonic.

"Destroy Those Who Love God" is one of those instrumentals with news report samples played over the top of it. Not too bad.

"Funeral Of Your Mind" speeds the pace up. We're now approaching mid-tempo. The song still sounds like a nightmare though, this is due in part to the vocals being quite low in the mix, as mentioned before. And they appear to be 'sneer' vocals which adds a whole different vibe. This vocal style doesn't just apply to this song, but to all those with vocals on this album. In fact, the whole album has a creepy vibe about it.

"We Love The Dead" - very bass heavy. Not many vocals to this one but when they come in, it;s kind of like they're their own instrument. Very uplifting riffs in this song. Like someone trying to get out of a tar pool. More wah-wah infused bass and everyone is very happy.

"Sadiowitch" ups the tempo slightly to a crawl, and we've also got more sneery vocals and obtuse drum patterns. Canny enough although probably not that essential a song compared to what's gone on previously.

"Lucifer's Slaves" adds a swagger to the proceedings and it certainly is a canny song. The vibe of the album has changed. Well, it changed a couple of tracks ago but now it seems like the booze and bad drugs are wearing off and things are becoming clearer. Things slow down before building up to a good finale.

"Saturn Dethroned" is the last song and is an instrumental. Very bass-heavy and finishes with the sounds of running water.

All in all, this album has certainly been an experience. Proof that you can be as heavy as almighty fuck without playing at a thousand miles an hour. The bass guitar is the most prominent instrument here and it's awesome! The only drawback I have is the latter material on the album doesn't quite hit the mark due to the nightmarish vibe of the first few tracks seemingly dissapating and becoming something more optimistic, lighter. Kind of like "The Divine Comedy" - this guy is dragged through the Nine Layers Of Hell before then being taken round Purgatory and eventually Heaven. Kind of like this album. Mind, it could be interpreted that the change in vibe was actually a masterful work of genius. I'll let you's be the judge. Either way, it's the perfect album to have one of those nights that leave your sitting room/bedroom looking like the cafe out of "Midnight Express"!

9/10 - Almost perfect. Almost.

Top Track: "Incense For The Damned".

Chris J.

This album is on iTunes.


(Not a song off this album - but a fucking genius song title!)

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