Artists | Issues | CD Reviews | Interviews | Concert Reviews | DVD/Video Reviews | Book Reviews | Who We Are | Staff | Home
 
Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

Electric Wizard

Witchcult Today

Review by Mike Korn

If there's a band out there today that typifies the druggy, Satanic side of the late 60's and early 70's more than Britain's Electric Wizard, I'd like to know who it is. This coven of grimmy and gloomy metalheads revel in such iconic archetypes as Hammer horror films, Anton Lavey's Church of Satan, the Spanish Inquisition, acid-fueled hippy devil cult and the warped weirdness of H.P. Lovecraft. And they find a way to transform these symbols of darkness into a music...an incredibly dense and heavy form of doom metal that resembles Black Sabbath amplified by a power of ten.

Witchcult Today is brimming with that sludgy, evil atmosphere and touches of all that is unholy. Unlike their last record We Live, which many felt to be too clean sounding, a reeking black miasma of filthy electric gloom clings to this record like fog to a graveyard. It's a thick analog sound with little of the digital trickery that makes today's music so lifeless. Repetition and simplicity is the key to Electric Wizard's effectiveness, inducing a trance-like state in the listener.

Though I would not quite put this at the level of the band's ultimate masterwork Dopethrone, no long time fan of oppressive, evil doom metal could be disheartened by Witchcult Today. This will transport you right back to the deepest, darkest corners of 1971!

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2008  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.
Track by Track Review
Witchcult Today
About 40 seconds into this and you know the Wiz is back in biz. This is a slow, syrupy concoction that oozes along like the primeval slime, based on an elementary riff pattern and lots of droning guitar histrionics. Vocalist Jus Osborn sounds eerie and mournful with his plaintive, thin-sounding chants. This is a horror that builds in intensity as it trudges ominously along, with the guitar virtually howling like a banshee in torment towards the last third of the track.
Dunwich
Lovecraft fans will certainly recognize the name, one of H.P.'s sinister New England villages full of inbred cultists and cosmic monsters. This is more up-tempo than the title track and has a kind of evil bounce to its super catchy and ultra down tuned riffing. The vintage sounds of an organ add a lot of musty atmosphere to this cut, which is one of the most energetic. The lyrics are terrific: "Child of Dunwich, rise/You have your father's eyes/Child of Dunwich, rise/End the world that you despise.” Anybody who's read Lovecraft's "The Dunwich Horror" will know where that couplet comes from.
Satanic Rites of Drugula
Imagine if Dracula awakened in the middle of the English acid rock scene and sunk his fangs into some LSD-infested hippy chicks. He would become saturated with acid and therefore transformed into...Drugula. That's the lyrical premise of this super-doomy bone-crusher, which begins with those great patented Electric Wizard power chords. This could have come off of Dopethrone or the excellent Come, My Fanatics record. A lot of bands like Orange Goblin and Voodooshock try for this kind of feel, but only Electric Wizard have really perfected it. The scratchy, wah-wah infected guitar soloing is about as psychedelic as any band these days is going to get.
Raptus
This little instrumental throws a lot of psychedelic/acid rock tricks into its brief length, including sitar, distorted percussion and tons of effects on the guitar. It's mostly an ambient piece that conjures up sinister images of Eastern temples and strangely robed priests.
The Chosen Few

It took me a while to warm up to this one, which starts in a fashion almost identical to "Witchcult Today"...too close for comfort. But after a while this mutates into its own creature, with a more distinctive identity and again, tons of that 70's influenced guitar soloing. Around the three and a half minute mark, this starts to get real heavy and the ghost of a Hammond organ comes in again to add a spooky touch to the cut. "The Chosen Few/Look Up into the Sky/The Chosen Few//Waiting for the Sign/The Chosen Few are still children of the grave/ Satan's slaves."

Torquemada 71

Wow, does this start off loud! The volume here really jumps way higher than any other cut. It figures this would be my favorite, then. This is Electric Wizard at their catchiest, doomiest and most sinister best. I just love the super fuzzy and down tuned riff that drives this powerful brute. Think Sabbath's Master of Reality but even gloomier for a comparison. Osborn's vocals seem a little clearer than elsewhere. The tune is dedicated to the master of the Spanish Inquisition so you know it's another feel good number.

Black Magic Rituals and Perversions
This would be a great one for your kid's next birthday party, I'm sure. One of the band's patented really long, drugged out jams, this starts out promisingly with a very eerie and foreboding motif featuring tribal percussion and a shrill organ tone right out of a cheap horror movie. Then the doom kicks in big time. The heavy part of this song is scary and oppressive sounding. Unfortunately, it's only about a third of the length of this drawn-out and ultimately boring tune. The rest of the cut is taken up by backwards Latin and Satanic chants layered on each other, feedback and a series of drum rolls. Electric Wizard have always liked their "noisy" bits but this time it hurts, not helps, the track.
Saturnine
This is another real long jam based on a real "stoner rock" kind of riff. It sounds pretty similar to "The Outsider" off the Let Us Prey record. We get some really powerful drumming from Shane Bowers on this cut. What really distinguishes this is the huge amount of acidic wah-wah powered lead guitar soloing, which reaches a frenzied crescendo as the song lumbers along and Osborn intones "saturnine" over and over. This is Electric Wizard at their trippiest.
You'll find an audio interview of this artist in the Music Street Journal members area.
 
More CD Reviews
Metal/Prog Metal
Non-Prog
Progressive Rock
 
Google

   Creative Commons License
   This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.

    © 2019 Music Street Journal                                                                           Site design and programming by Studio Fyra, Inc./Beetcafe.com