Soundchecks Music Reviews
The Music Cartel/
Rise Above Records
review by Octavio Ramos Jr
The Electric Wizard
Ah, yes, The Electric Wizard has returned. With the departure in 2003 of two founding members, bassist Tim Bagshaw and drummer Mark Greening (both of whom have since formed a band known as Ramesses, which also features Adam Richardson of Spirmyard), fans did not expect to hear another sludgefest again. Not to worry, as mastermind Jus Osborn has recruited a new lineup and now unleashes We Live. And let me tell you, fans of heavy-heavy-heavy doom metal will not be disappointed.
Although not as psychedelic/ spacey as Dopethrone, We Live builds upon the style of Let Us Prey, boosting the woofer to hideous heights and downplaying the manipulated vocals. The end result hearkens to the days of the band's debut album and Come My Fanatics..., although the sound has become much fuller, thanks to the addition of a second guitarist Liz Buckingham (13 and Sourvein).
We Live opens with a two-part opus titled Eko Eko Azarak, a title that interestingly is similar to the 1995 film Eko Eko Azaraku, which itself is based on the Shinichi Kogo manga. Lyrically, however, the song has little to do with the film (except for the part about demons, maybe), with Osborn's lyrics right out of Clark Ashton Smith, complete with an ancient spacecraft summoned by black priests to seed the barren land that is Mars. Musically, expect pristine doom, with Osborn and Buckingham grinding out some ponderous riffs, Rob Al-Issa bending the woofer's strings like a madman, and drummer Justin Greaves' (Iron Monkey) squeezing every ounce of pain from his kit. Longtime fans will also appreciate the final stanzas of the song, which hearken to the EP Supercoven.
The title track is an interesting departure for The Electric Wizard. Lyrically a simple revenge tale, it opens with a hilarious movie sample and then gets down the business. The dual-guitar approach takes center stage, with both guitarists channeling riffs inspired by Black Sabbath while the bass reverberates through every bone. Osborn's gravel-laden throat comes off as quite pained, at times threatening to fall apart and die a miserable death. The deconstruction also infects the guitars, their riffs filled with distortion and some wicked feedback.
Flower Of Evil (Malfiore) has Osborn channeling his inspiration, Ozzy Osbourne, and the resemblance is uncanny (I refer to Osbourne during the days of Master Of Reality and Paranoid). Giving new meaning to misanthropy, Another Perfect Day? actually speeds up the rhythm a little, the pace setting the stage for some energetic drumming, a few blasting riffs, and cascading basslines. The infusion of old-fashioned rock 'n' roll adds a new wrinkle into the band's withered face. It may catch a few fans off guard, but few will be disappointed. The doom remains, but the stoner angle works really well, too.
The Sun Has Turned To Black plods its way like syrup through burnt waffles, with Osborn's higher-end screams giving the composition an eerie, unearthly vibe. Closing out the CD is Saturn's Children, a 15-minute opus that brings to light what has come before, with mentions of the supercoven, the blackened sun, and the iron cross. The final words are the most haunting: "Turn off your mind, there's nothing to find... Find out here..." As for the music, The Electric Wizard has never sounded better. The guitars milk each note of every millilitre of juice (there are some solos that will take your breath away), the bass ebbs and flows one minute and thunders the next, and the vocals like needles dig into the inner recesses of the spirit.
The worst part of We Live is that it comes to an end. Fortunately, all I need do is hit 'play' again on my overworked CD player. Fans of doom metal must possess this album - it will not disappoint you. Just keep this in mind: "Never talking, just keeps walking, spreading his magic..."
for PIGASUS Press