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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

Electric Wizard

Black Masses

Review by Gary Hill

You kind of know what you’re going to get when the new Electric Wizard album arrives. I mean, their sound is somewhat staked out – noisy, feedback laden, slow, trippy and very doom oriented. This is extremely heavy, but also very cool. Well, Black Masses certainly lives up to that image. That said, the music never gets redundant or trite or repetitive, outside the droning qualities of each cut. The more you listen to this disc, the more you like it. Electric Wizard never fails to entertain. If you’ve never heard them, or the stoner metal genre, give them a try. It might take a little while to catch and hold onto your psyche, but it’s well worth the effort. These guys are arguably the best band of the genre and every album is a winner. That said, this might well be one of their best.

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Track by Track Review
Black Mass

Heavy and distorted, this powers in with a feedback laden chord. Then they take it into the first power riff of the set. It’s like Black Sabbath gone garage. The vocals are rather catchy and there’s some smoking hot guitar soloing at times. This is a great way to start the set in style. They slow it to ultra-doomy sludge to take it out.

Venus in Furs
Coming out of the chaos left in the aftermath of the previous piece, this is even heavier. It’s like MC5 meets Black Sabbath. While there’s an insistent drone to this piece, it’s also like a doomy psychedelia in a lot of ways. It’s a more diverse and dynamic number than the opener. It’s also very cool.
The Nightchild
Feedback and effects start this out, and then a bent Sabbath-like chord is heard. This powers out with a pounding kind of rhythm section and that repeated bent chording. This is extremely heavy and extremely tasty and might be my favorite piece on the show. The vocals are particularly catchy.
Patterns of Evil
The riff that drives this is a tasty one. The cut has a real groove to it, while still being all Electric Wizard. I particularly like the guitar soloing on this piece, and, while in many ways, it’s more of the same, it never feels old or tired. This band just plain rocks, through and through.
Satyr IX
Multiple layers of feedback start this, then they take the track into an extremely slow moving world of sludgy sound. This works very slowly and deliberately, but it’s also very much like early Black Sabbath on Quaaludes (at least in terms of speed, not heaviness). It never gets anything close to fast, but they do take the cut in some different directions, although everything here changes very slowly. There’s a killer noisy jam at the end of the piece that’s almost progressive rock like in some ways. A bit of creepy ambience, I believe it’s backwards tracked, serves as the actual closing.
Turn Off Your Mind
Take something a bit like an early Aerosmith riff and give it a classic Electric Wizard treatment. Now, you’ve got a great idea of what this track is all about. Around the two and a half minute mark it dissolves to a journey into ambient weirdness and sound effects. That holds it for nearly a minute until they power back out to more killer riffing, but those effects and other elements continue along the route for a while. Eventually, though, it turns back to the song proper to continue. Minor variants are introduced and this just plain stomps.
Scorpio Curse
The vocals are further upfront in the mix on this number. It’s got a more accessible approach, but it’s still Electric Wizard one-hundred percent. There’s some deliciously noisy guitar soloing to be heard here.
Crypt of Drugula
A super-noisy, feedback dominated bit of weirdness leads this off and holds it. This never rises to the level of “song,” rather remaining in sort of a noisy kind of ambience. That doesn’t mean quiet, it’s anything but, however it’s not really melodic or rhythmically driven, but rather more like a bunch of clouds moving in the sky, changing shape and form as they do.
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