Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Album Review - Electric Wizard's "Black Masses"

I love Electric Wizard...they're just so hateful, and so slow. Any record by them is the ultimate 'put it on and watch everybody in the room take a step back' album. I blew out 2 separate sets of speakers with 'Dopethrone' a few years back. Jesus, what a loud fucking band. So, last week, their brand new record 'Black Masses' appears completely without my knowledge. I don't really keep up with shit like that. I did recently get into their last album 'Witchcult Today' (2007) which some people said was 'too poppy' for the Wiz. When it came out, I was just discovering 'Dopethrone' (2000) so I was kind of behind the times. If 'Witchcult Today' was a little more 'commercial' sounding (it really isn't...just more actual 'songs' and upbeat tempos) then 'Black Masses' is a big ol' 'fuck you up the ass' to anybody who doubted these guys (and girl.)

My immediate reaction on hearing this was 'are the drums supposed to sound like that?' (Yeah, I DID download the album...but that's because I don't buy anything without making 100% sure it's worth my money. This one definitely is.) The answer is, of course. While the Wizard is notorious for using analog gear and vintage amps to make their records, this is the first one that really COULD have come from a time warp. It sounds like they sought out microphones they knew Blue Cheer had fucked up back in the 60's. The drums are COMPLETELY buried by everything else, and the whole thing is distorted to high hell. This is a good thing.

The second thing I noticed is that the second track on the album is called 'Venus in Furs' but isn't a cover of the VU song. This is blasphemy to most hipsters. I hate hipsters, and I really don't like VU much either. Lou Reed is kind of a tool. Plus, that song is boring and this one kicks ass. This is probably one of the best Electric Wizard songs of all time. The vocals are totally fucked, and it sounds like Jus Osborn is trying really hard to sound as evil as possible on this record (something I didn't get from 'Let us Prey'....not their finest moment). Probably because he's tired of hippies being at his shows. Yeah, the Wizard smokes a TON of weed, but no, they don't love everybody (or anybody, for that matter.) Basically, this is the Wizard I loved from nihilistic rants like 'Funeralopolis.'

Another thing (from looking over the lyrics)....Electric Wizard doesn't swear at all anymore, really. This means that you can play ALL their songs on the radio! It was never a huge part of their style anyhow, but I do miss lines like "I hope this fucking world fucking burns away."

These tunes are also really catchy, in the way that 'Dunwich' from their last record was. I hesitate to say 'pop-doom,' but...Let's just say that these guys have realized that they can write songs that have chorus and still beat the shit out of you. Honestly, this stuff can't even really be compared to the classics like 'Come My Fanatics' because it's completely different. The Wizard totally knows how to do a different album every time while still maintaining the important part of their sound (the loudness and lowness)...this is an excellent way to NEVER get bad reviews (unless someone just doesn't like them overall).

Shit, I just hit 'Satyr IX.' This track is slooooooooowwwwww. Hahaha, and I totally just heard the drummer click a stick by accident. That's how you know it's a good record...it's 2010 and these guys don't give a fuck about making mistakes. The average 'modern' band sounds a little too perfect for my taste. Who knew Jus had a singing range like this, either? The ending to this track ('Satyr IX') is totally fucked, too.

I'm really digging the classic Sabbath-style vocal effects on this record. They really went over-the-top with the retro stuff this time around. Holy Fuck: 'Turn Off Your Mind' is a GREAT song. This might be even better than 'Venus in Furs.' Woah. Now there's a really creepy talking break. This album is a lot more 'interesting' than the classic Wizard sound where not much happens, but you like everything that DOES happen. I think they totally borrowed this riff in the second half of the song from somewhere but I can't place it......

OH FUCK, it's the Butthole Surfers...'100 Million People Dead' or whatever it's called. I'm guessing they probably didn't steal from them, but who knows?

Damn, there's a 'fucking' at the end of 'Scorpio Curse.' Too bad, it's a good 'un.

This last instrumental jam 'Crypt of Drugula' is interesting. Not something I'd listen to everytime I put the album on, but not a waste of space either. It's definitely creepy.

There you have it. Now go buy it from Rise Above.

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