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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

Electric Wizard

Let Us Prey

Review by Mike Korn

I don't really know what to make of these doleful Englishmen, but I do know that they have created some of the most depressing, suffocating shrouds of sonic gloom that have ever been spewed forth from the hands of man. "Doom metal" is a fairly close approximation, but "psychedelic torture" or "drug drone" would be equally appropriate.

Their self-titled debut was a perfectly serviceable platter of doom metal basking in the glow of Black Sabbath and Cathedral but the second record "Come My Fanatics" shocked the music community with long offerings of crawling distortion punctuated by ultra-spacey guitar and vocal effects. In effect, it made Sabbath and Cathedral sound very commercial. The real deathblow, though, was third record "Dopethrone", reviewed elsewhere here, which is very possibly the single heaviest, angriest, most crushing record ever. It remains one of my all-time favorites and will never be surpassed as an example of how monumentally brutal a riff can be. This brings us to "Let Us Prey", the latest spell cast by the Wizard. Well, it is certainly not as immediate or as catchy as "Dopethrone". If anything, it's a return to "Come My Fanatics" as there are only six tracks here and most are sonic funeral dirges soaked in lysergic venom. The riffs are often repeated so relentlessly that the listener will either scream "I surrender!" or else be swept up into a hypnotic trance. "Let Us Prey" is a record of layers. The basic riff is hammered home but on top of that we have strata of distorted frequencies, acidic guitar noises, muffled vocals and droning pulses. The result is true "acid rock", but often delivered with the potency of death metal and the smoldering anger of punk.

I can't say I like this one nearly as much as "Dopethrone" but it's Electric Wizard through and through. These madmen just don't give a damn what anyone thinks of them and they are going to create their opuses regardless of public or critical opinion. Massive amounts of drugs must have been consumed to write and perform this!

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2002 Year Book Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
A Chosen Few
A very mournful doom metal dirge that establishes the band's plan of attack, the gloomy funereal riffing is repeated relentlessly and then switches to an equally cheerless hook about half way through. It is a fairly traditional sound here, but done only as Electric Wizard can do it.
We The Dead
The pace and anger increase here. I wouldn't call this fast by any means, but it's got a lot more energy than anything else on the record and Jus Osborne's distorted vocals are full of rage.
Masters of Alchemy
Here we delve into the dark catacombs of "Let Us Prey". Depressing and merciless describes this lengthy tune. There's almost a touch of black metal ala Bathory or Darkthrone in the riffing here. It has a gothic, musty atmosphere that drones on while acid guitar solos writhe in the foreground.
The Outsider
This is such a monotonous dirge, I don't know yet whether it is genius or idiocy. I have never heard a riff repeated so much in my life. And over that is layered humongous amounts of scratchy phased guitar noise. The guitar noises keep coming in giant waves and you feel like you are drowning beneath it all. This is surely one of the most uncommercial songs ever written.
Night of the Shape
Stark and simple piano and bass form the backdrop for this instrumental, with all sorts of guitar distortion flowing over the top. It is not much to write home about.
Priestess of Mars
Ah, this I like. It starts with the sort of fat, lumbering doom that made "Dopethrone" so great. It has killer opening doom riffs, but then it changes to something a little more gothic. Again, repetition seems to be the key, both musically and vocally. It's a brutally eerie track and the best on the record.
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