Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Electric Wizard - 'Time to Die' (Music Review)

Time to Die is the latest occult offering from Dorset Doom outfit Electric Wizard. It finds the band re-tightening its sound and harkens back to some of their earlier work. Does it stack up to some of the greatest moments of their discography? Let's dig a little deeper into the grave and find out!

I'm a big time "E-WIZ" fan. Ever since hearing the much-lauded Come My Fanatics, I've been hooked. However, subsequent releases have been of varying quality and received with differing amounts of enthusiasm from their fans. The band has a historically shaky lineup, but it gelled into a fully outfitted two-guitar riffing monster in 2007 when Liz Buckingham joined frontman Jus Osborn on Witchcult Today. Each Electric Wizard release is slightly different from anything else they put out, while revolving around the central theme of an insanely detuned wall of sound. Of all the bands to rip off Black Sabbath, nobody beats the Wiz (and rightfully so given the origins of their name.)

Time to Die sees the group trimming a lot of fat off compared to their last couple outings, and it's really for the best. From the opener "Incense for The Damned" straight through closing instrumental "Saturn Dethroned", it's all business. Every song has absolutely crushing riffs that roll over swinging drumbeats like evil thunderclouds. It's all tied together nicely with creepy retro soundclips, and gives the album a sense of cohesion. Similar to Dopethrone and Witchcult Today, for every epic slice of destruction that runs over ten minutes, they'll pepper in a few 3 to 4 minute tunes that give you some concise stoner rock jams that leave you wanting more.

The overall cleaner production will definitely be a point of contention amongst fans, especially those who haven't liked their more studio polished works. While I totally dig the monstrous walls of sound Electric Wizard creates, I am a huge fan of Jus Osborn's insane lyrics about death, the dead, Satanism, and the Apocalypse. So the fact that I can actually tell what he's saying on Time to Die was a plus for me. It actually enhances the overall sinister feeling while you listen to it, and certainly doesn't detract at all from the musical brutality.

It's been 4 years since Black Masses left a lot of us feeling flat, but Time to Die is a return to a more focused Electric Wizard, who are intent on suffocating you through sound. It may not be hailed as their greatest work, but for my money it's a bong-rattling doom metal monolith that sits high on the list.

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