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Electric Wizard - "Black Masses" (CD)

Electric Wizard - "Black Masses" CD cover image

"Black Masses" track listing:

1. Black Mass
2. Venus In Furs
3. Night Child
4. Patterns Of Evil
5. Satyr IX
6. Turn Off Your Mind
7. Scorpio Curse
8. Crypt Of Drugula

Reviewed by on December 24, 2010

"A tour-de-force with super-high crescendos that leaves even the listener exhausted – yet fulfilled with metal euphoria."

The British purveyors of doom Electric Wizard return with "Black Masses," a brain-pummeling follow-up to 2007’s “Witchcult Today.” “Black Masses” marks the band’s first disc with its current lineup - founding vocalist/guitarist Jus Oborn, guitarist Liz Buckingham, drummer Shaun Rutter and new bassist Tas Danazoglou - and comes after years of turmoil that led to the defection of several original members. But the band picks right up where the 70's-inspired “Witchcult Today” left off with a hefty offering of stoner/doom/sludge that smacks like an anvil dropped from the top of a lighting rig.

The disc starts with the feedback-laden intro to the raucous “Black Mass” and finishes with the nearly nine minutes of distortion, feedback and otherworldly guitar manipulations that make up “Crypt of Drugula.” In between are six druggy, majestic musical nightmares that hearken the muscular, organic metal of Pentagram, Candlemass and High On Fire. “Patterns of Evil” is hypnotic, as “Meddle”-era Pink Floyd riffs collide with a woofer-rumbling bottom end and wailing guitars that sound like planes plummeting from the sky. It’s a tour-de-force with super-high crescendos that leaves even the listener exhausted, yet fulfilled with metal euphoria.

“Satyr IX,” a nearly 10-minute dark opus, is marked by Oborn’s anguished wails of, “Rise, rise, legions of hatred.” It’s vintage doom that evokes images of an apocalyptic orgy of witches, demons and stoned-out longhairs. “Turn Off Your Mind” is either an ode to LSD or a warning of the drug’s dark side, as Oborn chants “Acid burns your mind” over a psychedelic wall of distortion and feedback. It’s like the Beatles meet Cathedral. “Scorpio Curse,” meanwhile, is a haunting, bleak statement on universal atrocities – from rape to murder to the societal scourge of drugs – all set over a thunderous, mesmerizing chug.

Like most doom, Electric Wizard owes much to Black Sabbath and pay righteous homage to the genre’s pioneers. It would be hard to imagine that Geezer, Tony, Ozzy and Bill wouldn’t enjoy the imagery here, especially when Oborn bellows on “Scorpio Curse,” “Lucifer laughs this is his domain/Dead fill the streets up to the sky.”

Highs: A beefy, well-crafted addition to the doom landscape.

Lows: At times restrains itself from unleashing ferociousness.

Bottom line: True to the genre, true to itself, and heavy as hell.

Rated 4.0 out of 5 skulls
4.0 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)