Megalithic lords of doom Electric Wizard are back with their latest, Wizard Bloody Wizard. The Sabbathian title may invoke some eye-rolls among those tiring of the long-worn schtick of metal bands doing their best Iommi and co. impression, but the contents are true to form and will please loyalists of both the band and genre.
I’ve always considered myself a fan, but when the lead single “See You in Hell” dropped, I just wasn’t feeling it. Having now listened to that song and the entire album several times in between revisits of the band’s discography, it still sits as a weak spot in an otherwise decent record. While the trudging, syrupy riffs hit a high point mid-song, the dirge and dismay of Wizard’s previous output seems to take a backseat to self-imitation and tired songwriting. Thankfully the video, with its cliché but visually pleasing nod to occult exploitation films projected behind the band performing in appropriately ’70s-themed garb, enhances the aural experience. Electric Wizard have always expertly blended sound and image to create a feeling of being inside the horror show, so what ingenuity they lack in the song’s structure and execution is fairly forgiven.
“Necromania” picks up the pace a bit and provides, if not the most original songwriting, at least the most well-executed realization of the vintage psych-horror sound on the album. While some of the riffs still manage to come off sluggish and phoned-in at certain points, the main hook is the most infectious you’ll find here. The following track “Hear the Sirens Scream” is one of the album’s more ambitious offerings, with nearly nine minutes of layered, cyclical riffs that offer some dynamic on what stands as an otherwise fairly even-keeled album. Luckily the next track “The Reaper” clocks in at a third the time of the one before it, a comparatively brief intermission before returning to the blatant Sabbath worship for the album’s last half. The exhaustingly heavy closer “Mourning of the Magicians” features a couple of slow builds that hint at something heavier and faster to come, but the apex reached is decidedly more solemn and funereal than one would first expect. I can picture this being an excellent show-closer, the refrain “I’ll see you in hell” (nice, if predictable, thematic closure) echoing over a guitar solo taken straight from a ’70s acid trip.
The lack of originality and excitement here is rectified by the execution and style diehards have come to expect and want. While this might not be a go-to introductory album for the new or unfamiliar fan (Dopethrone or bust there, obviously), it will surely sit in Electric Wizard’s discography as a solid effort.
Wizard Bloody Wizard comes out November 10th via Spinefarm; pre-order it here.