The downside to an early magnum opus in your career is that everything you do afterwards will be compared to it. Pearl Jam never lived up to Ten, Guns ‘n Roses have always cowered under the shadow of Appetite for Destruction, Annihilator spent 14 albums getting compared to the first 2, and Electric Wizard could play nothing but Dopethrone for the rest of their lives. When your career consists of fruitlessly building towers of Babel, trying to reach the God you created, it can be disheartening for an artist struggling to move forward. In this case, your best friend is a reviewer who, against all odds, left listening to that unattainable pillar of perfection near the bottom of their bucketlist. I never partook in Electric Wizard beyond fleeting samples, so currently, I should be their number one pal as I endeavored to enter the world of Wizard Bloody Wizard with a blank slate and clean conscience.

The ingredients to Wizard are quite simple. Take one or two lumbering riffs, repeat stuff, and ladle Jus Oborn’s sardonic croon over the top. Bake in the desert sun for a year, garnish with the occasional feedback-laden solo or key change and presto, a new Electric Wizard track is done! Aside from psychedelic interlude “The Reaper” all tracks follow this basic recipe. “Necromania” adds an extra sprinkling of stoner, thundering along at a more nimble pace than the rest of the album, especially the pile driver stomp of the opener. Closer “Mourning of the Magicians” slowly drowns in a cycle of chanted mantras and dragging guitars.

But even though the execution is more than competent, Wizard is entirely uninspired and, frankly, boring. The riffs plod and churn repetitively, little variations barely concealing their one track mind, and I wonder what they attempt to achieve. They don’t inspire headbanging, they’re not heavy, they don’t have the cool factor, they don’t evoke hazy deserts or grinding tectonic plates. They’re just there, doing very little at all. Jus’ sneer has its personality but no passion, performing like an actor who doesn’t care for his own character. It’s rote, perfunctory, inspiring neither joy nor enthusiasm, a quality shared with the guitars. The absence of variation inside or among the tracks are death to the immersion, and I find myself tuning out with alarming regularity.

Despite my vow not to go into comparison with their legacy, I needed to confirm that this is not the sound that had such a huge impact on stoner and doom metal. Indeed, listening to Dopethrone, I find a filthy, grimy, and earth-shatteringly heavy beast of an album. In interviews, the band regaled about their criminal lowlife behavior during that time, and their simple wish to record the heaviest, dirtiest music they could. Now that they have cleaned up their lives, it seems they’ve neutered their music, without the songwriting chops to make up for it. The production is a prime example of this as well: though objectively clearer and more audible with reasonable dynamics, only some fuzz remains of the toxic swamp from which their masterpiece was dredged. Cleaner is not always better.

Wizard Bloody Wizard is not a bad album per se. There are quite a few small moments where inspiration opens a lazy eye, generally in the more spirited solos or in the occasionally clever variations on one of the riffs. The production may be more toothless than good for the band, but the audibility of all the instruments remains a plus, and I have few complaints about the drums and bass. But I can’t abide by a band of this status resigning to a state of spiritless coasting. I’m not saying Electric Wizard should revert to a life of drugs, petty crime and racking up ASBOs, but they need to find again that spirit of rebellion, kick over the stool and work up a sweat. I’ve heard that on stage, they still do. But in their current state, studio recordings do not produce the sensation their heart is truly still in the style they helped pioneer.


Rating: 2.0/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 192 kbps mp3
Label: Spinefarm Records
Websites: electricfuckinwizard.com | facebook.com/electricwizarddorsetdoom
Releases Worldwide: November 17th, 2017

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  • AlphaBetaFoxface

    thought this was some overtly surgical post-2005 electro-crunk metalcore single going by the artwork.

    instead it was something much more disappointing.

    • Goldicot

      everybody knows you love post-2005 electro-crunk metalcore

      • AlphaBetaFoxface

        dems be fighting words punkass

  • Brutalist_Receptacle

    Meh. Ascetic pantocrators and hypostases with black halos and gemlike robes.

    • GardensTale

      You’re good for my vocabulary.

    • Thatguy

      ‘Meh’ is the woody word here.

  • Gaia

    Let’s for a minute compare this to a blues record. The swing, the in-the-pocket groove, the repetition, the downforce of downward picking, the tales of woe and sorrow. In a modern frame, EW approaches, separate from a sound made nearly 20 years ago, the forcefulness is there, old layers of grime and horror swathe over the new swing, it’s live recorded, it’s memorable, it’s thrusting where Time to Die rusted. There’s plenty to like on this record, I think.

    • Thatguy

      Well, I don’t hear the groove of a good blues track.

  • Maximos662

    Admittedly, I have not listened to the more recent EW records, but I never imagined that EW could be so…. boring. That track was like trying to imagine EW, but on quaaludes.

  • Bas

    Indeed already for 3 or 4 albums they try to do something else than dopethrone. I enjoyed witchcult today though… The embedded track starts nice but continues indeed too long. Terrible album cover also…

  • DIMENSIONAL BLEEDTHROUGH

    Time to Die was the first time I found myself bored with this band – and I know “boring” is a weird way to describe a doom/stoner band – so much that I haven’t even bothered to give this a listen (although I guess I will today). I even skipped a live show a couple of years ago that a bunch of my buddies went to, and unsurprisingly they all came back disappointed.

    It’s too bad, because not only is Dopethrone and other stuff from that that era some of my favorite in this style, but Witchcult and Black Mass are both solid, straightforward records with catchy songs.

    I wonder if it’s too late for these guys to ever surprise us again.

  • So much cognitive dissonance at the Pearl Jam line… I’d agree that Ten is just utterly unfuckwithable, but I absolutely fucking love them and think almost all of their albums have managed to be excellent in their own way, especially if you look at them as an actual rock/jam band instead of as a grunge act. “WMA”, “Tremor Christ”, “Rearviewmirror” and “Given to Fly” are essential Muppet Pearl Jam tunes from other albums, plus “Yellow Ledbetter” of course. I know you’re not ripping on them in the slightest, I just have a lifelong love for them which must be needlessly defended at all times.

    • Iain Gleasure

      After a 20 something year old bald guy sang Jeremy at karaoke I still can’t listen to Pearl Jam. “Hoo, Hoo, Hoo, Hoo…” It still makes me laugh

      • Laughing at Jeremy is unwise.

        • Iain Gleasure

          What’s he gunna do? Take a shot!?

          Oh, yeah,well…

        • Tofu muncher

          My wife digs Pearl Jam, I don’t. Hoo, Hoo, Hoo, Hoo…

    • Cherd

      Their best is Vitalogy.

      • I’m a Ten-er all the way, but that one has some glorious tracks as well. “Nothingman”, “Immortality”, the aforementioned “Tremor Christ”… Good stuff.

    • Eli Valcik

      I’m still pissed at pearl jam for ripping off Cirith Ungol’s I’m Alive.

      • I didn’t think I’d ever find cause to consider ousting thee from the hall, and where your comment is more metal than mine I concede that I’ve no grounds for such, but know that I’m watching you with the beady plastic eyes of a Muppet scorned.
        And it’s just “Alive” dammit.

        • Eli Valcik

          Oh no, not the MAG watch list! But Cirith Ungol’s I’m Alive and Pearl Jam’s Alive. Nothing really against the band, I also like how to point out how Nirvana copied lots of stuff, and don’t even get me started on metallica. But I’ll have to keep my comment guard up for awhile.

          • Speak as thou will, I don’t care about any of those bands besides Pearl Jam.

      • Comment of the epoch.

  • Metal and Hockey

    I like the song that was released and already had this pre ordered cause it’s Electric Wizard. Will they ever release another Dopethrone no I’m sure not but Black Masses and Witchcult are awesome and I’m looking forward to hearing all of the new one

    • Brian Dempsey

      Wow! so you are the other guy who thinks Black Masses is awesome too…seriously though the hate that EW get for not releasing Dopethrone over and over is getting pretty silly and this reviewer doesn’t even seem to like the band at all.

      • Metal and Hockey

        Yea I seriously doubt EW is trying to reach the God they created that is Dopethrone. This far into their career I doubt they could care how the new album compares to it. As a long time fan of the band I know I don’t. The reviewer did say he isn’t familiar at all with the band so I take that for what it is

      • GardensTale

        I hadn’t listened to them before. But no one else wanted to review this, so I picked up the slack. Blank slate reviews have their value too, but I recognize it won’t be as useful for a longtime fan as a review by someone more familiar with their body of work, which is why I made it a point to mention my inexperience in the review.

        • Bas

          I am glad you reviewed it !
          To me its a good review even though I will probably like this album more than you.

      • Weirwolfe

        Black Masses fan here too.

    • Honestly… Black Masses is my EW’s fav… by far!!!

      • Metal and Hockey

        Great album! I listen to it more than any of their others

    • Carlos Parlo

      I love most EW albums and I’ve never felt they repeated the same work over and over. I though “Time to Die” was completely different than Black Masses and Dopethrone and I loved all 3.

  • Nukenado

    I’d rather listen to White Bloody Wizzard.

    • Carlos Marrickvillian

      ha!

  • manimal

    Oh look, Sabbath’s Iron Man video! Ozzy now plays rhythm guitar, I see.

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    That cover is a fold out poster, right? Otherwise, I’m not buying it.

    • I just hope this gets Nov AotM for the background!

      • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

        I hadn’t thought of that, but you’re absolutely right!

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    I thought their last album was on the forgettable side..
    I think you’re right… These guys need to either go full Opeth and release a more hook laden occult rock album or drop a burning paper bag full of fucked up evil shit on our collective doorsteps.
    I quite like build of See you in Hell so I’ll check this out.

    • Dudeguy Jones

      I think the latter would be the best option, but you got me wondering now with the former. That would be pretty interesting, if given a bit of filth too.

  • WitchfinderFinder

    If we are talking about doom pioneers when where the hell is the new Pagan Altar review?

  • surreptitious pounders

    Been an EW fan since Witchcult Today. This new one ain’t bad but it’s not their defining sound. The last song on it is my fave.

  • Brutally uninteresting and derivative. Although, bonus points for Anton LaVey floating around in the band photo.

  • herrschobel

    THIS BAND IS STUCK IN A LOOP THEY FABRICATED THEMSELVES.

    …and i never liked them in the first place. One the most overrated Bands of all time IMO. but i must thank them for the title:! legalise drugs and murder!. sums up my view on society perfectly well.

  • You should probably listen to a better format than 192. I like the record and I will admit it’s a little boring. They really could have done something wonderful on this outing but kept it safe.