Wednesday, December 15, 2010

ELECTRIC WIZARD - Black Masses CD review

Rise Above Records

Listening to this new release by Dorset doomsters, ELECTRIC WIZARD, is like spending the night in an opium den with a Lovecraftian whore. Along with the haze and sex there's white shards of light blurring your vision from that window-pane acid you dropped earlier, just for the hell of it. To put it in other words, you feel like you're in a comfortable and familiar place but something is just not right. Seeing that everyone (especially on the hipster sites) had their reviews of this written, sans pertinent details like song titles and actually listening to it, many months ago when this was cited as "one of the years most anticipated releases". I've had to actually listen and think about whatafuck is really going on with Black Masses. The biggest mistake I made with their previous full length, Witchcult Today, was that I reviewed it too fast. That resulted in a review I later regretted posting since months later, after continuous late night playings, I found it to be a pretty damm good release. But for those of you who haven't taken into all the pre-release hype, the collective hipster suckoff or even the early reviews then you're in for a surprise.

Black Masses is a little bit of old and a little bit of new. As far as the old goes the band once again took clear advantage of all the cool analog gear at Toe Rag studios to drag their sound back to 1972. It's kinda like BLACK SABBATH partying in Jinx Dawson's bedroom. From that point on everything is sort of newer including their bass player. Gone is Rob Al Issa, who might've found religion and joined the Taliban, and in his place is tattoo faced Tas or Tasos. For some people he might be a weird choice since his past efforts were playing drums in two Spanish bands GREAT COVERN and the EIGHT HANDS OF KALI. Although in his last band SABBATH NAVAHTHANI he was pulling bass and vocal duties. Another thing new to this release is that it's loud. With their past stuff you turned the volume up but on Black Masses it's the opposite. The first cut on here "Black Mass" will shock you out of that cough syrup haze, remember the previous mentioned window-pane? While the cut sounds filthy musically it's Jus Osborn's vocals that pierce through it all along with the ending feedback. This is followed by the early leaked cut, "Venus in Furs", which quite frankly sucks. It sounds like they recorded the track in another room three doors down with King Buzzo. There's two much drunken guitar noodling, no bass and is that Liz Buckingham screaming to open the song or did Shaun Rutter shove one of his drumsticks up a cat's ass?

Things really don't get going until the third cut "The Nightchild" which kinda reminds me of a stoner rock version of BAUHAUS. The song has an excellent SABBATH-ian riff and Osborn's other worldly cry of a vocal style is past perfect. There's a point where you think he's gonna leave off with just a torturing guitar soloing but he keeps repeating the words "under the black sun" till it bleeds into the next cut "Patterns of Evil. This the fourth track is something closer to Witchcult Today than Dopethrone. Like having your head sandwiched between the huge breasts of two obese, naked Wiccan lesbos high on schrooms, the naked Wiccan lesbos on the shrooms that is. "Satyr IX" is another good track with the exception of there being no heavy bass. Shaun Rutter's drumming fills in for that plus there's some choice soloing, first pure "wah wah" pedal playing then thunder chords like giant boots and finally everything thrown in sounding like the symphony of the bizarre. There's that window-pane kicking in again while a plethora, a word from an ex of mine's lexicon, of feedback dances upon your synapses. The riff in "Turn Off Your Mind" will have Tony Iomni checking for copyright infringement, not that ELECTRIC WIZARD hasn't borrowed more than their fare share from the SAB-Four before. On here it's just overstating the obvious and trying to mask it with psychedelic guitar pyrotechnics.

"Scorpio Curse" is probably the absolute best cut on Black Masses since it has a character sound that represents this band's career body of work. It's a slow dragger like a snail pulling a ten pound weight behind it's tail, oozing filthy slime across the floor that adds to the guitar soloing wildly. It's definitely a perfect cut for being next to the end of the release but why did ya have to wait so long to actually hear primo ELECTRIC WIZARD on a goddamm ELECTRIC WIZARD release? The final cut on here, "Crypt of Drugula", is the band's salute to Stephan O'Malley and Greg Anderson. That line alone should leave hipsters in suspense. Speaking of which I can only imagine the facial expressions of the hipsters upon first hearing this and wondering what to do with their pre-conceived opinions. (Oops? Fail? Dick in Mouth Again?) The only thing which would've been better is if Osborn dragged THY GRIEF ETERNAL out of the ashes and slapped an ELECTRIC WIZARD logo on it. Black Masses represents the sound of a band too comfortable with themselves to actually care. Their past greatness was based upon inner band conflict, strife and drugs to cover it all up. That's why you had their excellent debut, plus Come My Fanatics, Dopethrone and to some extent Witchcult Today because Jus Osborn was still in a past hangover. This is not a bad release but it does follow the same fate that all of the other so-called "most anticipated releases of 2010" faced once you actually heard them and that's "hype" but nothing else. I'm sure Osborn's ex-bandmates in RAMESSES are having a good laugh now.



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