Electric Wizard – Black Masses (Rise Above/Metal Blade)

Wednesday, 20th March 2013
Rating: 6.5/10

Never quite understood the fuss around these guys, probably because they’re more about causing a racket than being cohesive, but methinks Sabbath in their halcyon days didn’t have a clue how to write a song either.Black Masses is the second go-round for the re-tooled version of Electric Wizard (i.e. Electric Wizard Mach II), who as some may remember, practically dissolved in the mid-00s in a haze of infighting and drug problems. And yeah, it’s mysterious sounding and alluring…and it’s unlistenable at times too. It cancels itself out.

Suitably lo-fi, the production job is perfectly suited to corral the riffs of mainman Gus Oborn and Liz Buckingham. Granted, these riffs are buried in fuzz and distortion-overload, yet they’re still impactful as they can be. Perhaps the best example of this is the clanky “Venus In Furs,” which manages to delve into some respectable Sabbath circa Vol. 4 territory, even though Oborn’s vocals are a tremendous weak spot. “Night Child” will lull one to sleep, as will the sloppy “Patterns of Evil.”

As the album progresses, an instant parallel to basement black metal becomes more apparent, and yeah, we back some of those bands (key word: some), they at least have some ability to cut through the suffocating sonic fog they create. In the case of Electric Wizard, they’re so low-grade and retro, that it can only appeal to stoners who have the patience and fortitude to make through an album that ultimately sounds like one colossal fuzz box left on “10.”

Black Masses is going to fawned over the next 8-10 months and frankly, the only thing it can be traced to is the band’s reputation, which has now totally preceded itself. The spectre of Dopethrone and half-assed Come My Fanaticshas essentially built the career of Electric Wizard, allowing them to release sonic pigsties like Black Masses. It’s pretty whacked how these things work out…


(This content originally appeared on Blistering.com)

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