Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Album Review: Electric Wizard - Wizard Bloody Wizard

There are such things as trigger words, which upon hearing them, incite a certain reaction from us. They aren't the same for all of us, as mine will obviously differ from yours, but the concept remains. When we hear those words, we either start to salivate at the thought of how great a record is going to be, or we reflexively start to plug our ears, knowing that we aren't going to enjoy the trip we're about to take. For me, there were several that came with this new Electric Wizard album. The press materials promised "cranium crushing bludgeon rock", "relentless aural brain rape", and "43 brain damaging minutes" of music. Any one of those would have made me nervous, but the combination had all but sealed my verdict before I even hit play.

Ever the good soldier, I carried on and listened, trying my best to give the music a fair shake. Thankfully, I don't have to file charges against Electric Wizard, as their music did not do any of the promised assault against my senses they intended. Sure, their music is abrasive, but not so much so that it needs to be promoted with obviously untrue bombast. There were plenty of ways of hyping the music that didn't need to make it sound like a sexual predator. I assume they would have been more effective, to boot.

So what do we get with "Wizard Bloody Wizard"? Well, as the title suggests, we get an album that is highly in debt to the slower doom tracks that early Black Sabbath established, roughed up with enough stoner fuzz to turn someone's lungs black. The songwriting isn't anything out of the ordinary, but the sound itself is so filthy that I feel you would need to be in an altered state of mind to think it sounds good. I don't know why stoner bands ever established a tone that sounds like a broken speaker from a 1972 Oldsmobile station wagon, but that's what we get here. Everything about the record is fuzzy enough to sound out of focus, like getting up and looking out the window without putting your glasses on.

And the worst part of that is the songs drag out, anywhere from five to eleven minutes. That much of the wretched guitar tone at once, without much development building riffs into something more than a droning hum, is hard to sit through. There simply aren't enough riffs here to justify the song lengths, and even the riffs that are present aren't of the Iommi quality where you don't need anything else. Plus, there's the fact that "Necromania" has a main riff that sounds quite a bit like Kiss' "War Machine". Add that all up, and we get a record that is highly derivative of the past, without making a case for why you should listen to this instead of any of those classic Sabbath records.

I knew before I even listened to "Wizard Bloody Wizard" that it wasn't going to be for me. I gave it a chance to surprise me, but we ended up right where I expected all along. Electric Wizard might have pulled themselves closer to the Black Sabbath playbook this time around, but what's the point of that? There already was a Sabbath, and even on their way out the door, those guys were able to make a record that had sharper riffs and better written songs. "Wizard Bloody Wizard" is a record made to justify a pun, and not much else.

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