Electric Wizard Announce Nov. East Coast Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 11th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Two years removed from their latest album, 2017’s Wizard Bloody Wizard (review here), and just a month removed from their headlining slot at Psycho Las Vegas, UK doom magnates Electric Wizard will do a select round of dates along the US Eastern Seaboard, and, well, that’s just nifty. It’ll be right before Thanksgiving, which is as appropriate a time as I can think of to hear the riff from “Funeralopolis,” and they’re playing some pretty decent-sized venues. It’s been a couple years since they were in this part of the world, but they’ve been touring in drips and drabs in various regions, so it was a matter of time before they got back. Good doom happens slowly.

Fresh off the PR wire:

electric wizard

ELECTRIC WIZARD ANNOUNCE EAST COAST TOUR DATES THIS NOVEMBER

England’s paramount doom act returns to U.S. soil once again…

Advancing their American assault, British doom legends Electric Wizard are one again returning to the United States. This November, Electric Wizard will level everything in their path and perform in St. Petersburg, FL, Atlanta, GA, Silver Spring, MD, Brooklyn, NY, Philadelphia, PA and Worcester, MA. The tour follows last month’s praiseworthy appearance at Las Vegas’ Psycho Festival where Electric Wizard shook the foundation of the Mandalay Bay Events Center. Soon, residents along the Eastern seaboard will have their chance to experience Electric Wizard’s massively monolithic wall of sound with a set list that traverses the group’s 9 album, 25-year-long legacy.

Electric Wizard continue to support their acclaimed 2017 album Wizard Bloody Wizard. Since its release, the band has played select shows in the United States and overseas including high profile appearances at the likes of London’s iconic Shepard’s Bush Empire, Up In Smoke (Switzerland), Deathfest (Netherlands), and more. Electric Wizard is commonly (and rightfully) referred to as “the heaviest band in the world,” with at least three of their nine LP’s widely recognized as genre benchmarks and heavy metal classics: 1996’s Come My Fanatics…, 2000’s Dopethrone and 2007’s Witchcult Today. Electric Wizard remain an undeniable influence over modern doom metal and how it is perceived today.

Tour dates and venues are detailed below — these shows are not to miss. More news from Electric Wizard to surface soon.

ELECTRIC WIZARD, ON TOUR w/ MIDNIGHT:
November 15 St. Petersburg, FL @ Janus Landing
November 16 Atlanta, GA @ The Tabernacle
November 18 Silver Spring, MD @ The Fillmore
November 19 Brooklyn, NY @ Brooklyn Steel
November 20 Philadelphia, PA @ The Fillmore
November 22 Worcester, MA @ The Palladium

Artist photo by: Ester Segarra

http://electricwizard.merchnow.com/
https://www.facebook.com/electricwizarddorsetdoom/
https://www.facebook.com/spinefarm/
http://www.spinefarmrecords.com/
https://open.spotify.com/track/5gG15aEI4zv1hohsjFBhtD

Electric Wizard, Live at Psycho Las Vegas 2019

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Quarterly Review: 11PARANOIAS, Robot Lords of Tokyo, The Riven, High Reeper, Brujas del Sol, Dead Witches, Automaton, Llord, Sweet Jonny, Warp

Posted in Reviews on March 20th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review-spring-2019

Day three. Cruisin’. Oh, another 10 reviews to write? Yeah, no problem. I’m on it.

Okay, maybe a little less that and a little more be banging my head against the wall of sound, but the point is we — you and I — move forward anyhow. The Quarterly Review continues today with the third batch, which at the end will bring us to the halfway point, 30 of the total 60 records done, and that always feels like an occasion. Also helps that it’s a pretty good batch of stuff, so let’s not waste time with formalities, right?

Quarterly Review #21-30:

11PARANOIAS, Asterismal

11paranoias asterismal

It’s a freakout, but not the good kind. More like a panic attack happening in slow motion on another dimensional plane. The masters of murk, 11PARANOIAS return through their own Ritual Productions imprint with Asterismal, collecting/conjuring upwards of nine tracks and 73 minutes of material depending on in which format one encounters it. The core of the outing is the six-song/45-minute vinyl edition, and that’s plenty fucked enough, to be honest, as bassist/vocalist Adam Richardson (Ramesses), guitarist Mike Vest (Bong) and drummer Nathan Perrier (ex-Capricorns) unfurl a grim psychedelic fog across songs like opener “Loss Portal” and tap into The Heads-style swirl on “Bloodless Crush” only to turn it malevolent in the process. The 12-minute “Quantitative Immortalities” finds Vest in the forward position as it summarizes the stretch of doom, psych, and bizarre atmosphere that’s utterly 11PARANOIAS‘ own, and that’s before you get into the experimental and sometimes caustic work on the CD/digital-only “Acoustic Mirror” (10:35) and “Acoustic Mirror II” (15:08), which both rise from minimalist bass to become a willful test of endurance only a select few will pass. All the better.

11PARANOIAS on Thee Facebooks

Ritual Productions website

 

Robot Lords of Tokyo, Rise Robot Rise

Robot Lords of Tokyo Rise Robot Rise

Was there ever any doubt Robot Lords of Tokyo could do it on their own? Not if you ever listened to Robot Lords of Tokyo, there wasn’t. The Columbus, Ohio-based outfit built a reputation in the earlier part of the decade by bringing guests onto their records, but their new EP and first outing in half a decade, Rise Robot Rise, features five songs of just the band itself, with founders Rick Ritzler (drums) and Paul Jones (vocals) joined by bassist Joe Viers and guitarists Steve Theado and Beau VanBibber. Their last outing was the 2013 full-length Virtue and Vice (review here), but they seem in “In the Shadows” and “Looking for the Sun” to come into their own with Jones bringing a John Bush-type edge to the hook of “Looking for the Sun” and echoing out a bit on centerpiece “Hell Camino,” which boasts not the band’s first nod to Clutch. With opener “In the Shadows” setting the tone for an undercurrent of metal, “My Aching Eyes” and “Terminus” pay that off without losing their rock edge and thereby highlight just how much force has always been in the core lineup to start with.

Robot Lords of Tokyo on Thee Facebooks

Robot Lords of Tokyo at CDBaby

 

The Riven, The Riven

The Riven The Riven

Issued by The Sign Records, the self-titled debut from Sweden’s The Riven (also discussed here) hones in on classic heavy rock but never actually quite tips all the way into vintage-ism. It sounds like a minor distinction until you put the record on and hear the acoustic guitar lines deep in the mix of “Far Beyond” or the echoing vocal layers in the second half of the later “Fortune Teller” and realize that The Riven are outright refusing to sacrifice audio fidelity for aesthetic. There’s no shortage of shuffle to be had, rest assured, but The Riven are less concerned with aping traditionalism than updating it, and while they’re not the first to do so, the fact that on their first record they’re already working to put their stamp on the established genre parameters bodes well, as does the bluesy float of “I Remember” and the mellow vibing early in “Finnish Woods.”

The Riven on Thee Facebooks

The Sign Records on Bandcamp

 

High Reeper, Higher Reeper

high reeper higher reeper

Philadelphia exports High Reeper offer their second full-length through Heavy Psych Sounds in Higher Reeper, upping the stakes from their 2017 self-titled debut (review here) in more than just title. In the intervening two years, the five-piece have toured extensively, and it shows in the pacing and general craft of the eight songs/38 minutes here, from the perfectly-timed nod at the end of “Buried Alive” to the face-slap proto-trash riff that starts the subsequent “Bring the Dead,” from the mountaintop echoes of “Obsidian Peaks” (note the “Hole in the Sky” riff rearing its head) to the howling roll through “Plague Hag” and into six-minute closer “Barbarian,” as High Reeper hone elements of doom to go with their biker rock sleaze. Stellar guitar is a running theme beginning with opener “Eternal Leviathan,” and Higher Reeper quickly proves that if you thought the debut had potential, you were right.

High Reeper on Thee Facebooks

Heavy Psych Sounds website

 

Brujas del Sol, II

brujas del sol ii

if the 6:40 album opener “Teenage Hitchhiker” from Brujas del Sol‘s Kozmik Artifactz-delivered II makes anything plain, it’s that the songs that follow on the seven-track/43-minute outing are going to pay attention to texture. Still about half-instrumental, the Columbus, Ohio, four-piece veer from that modus with “Sisterlace,” the New Wave-y “Fringe of Senility,” the delightfully dream-toned “White Lights,” and the final Floydian section of closer “Spiritus,” adding vocals for the first time and leaving one wondering what took them so long. Nonetheless, the winding lines and later subtly furious drums of “Sea Rage” and the scorching leads of the penultimate “Polara” bring the proggy mindset of the band that much more forward, and if II is transitional, well, it was going to be anyway, because a band like this never stops growing or challenging themselves. They certainly do here, and the results are an accomplishment more than worth continuing to build upon.

Brujas del Sol on Thee Facebooks

Kozmik Artifactz website

 

Dead Witches, The Final Exorcism

dead witches the final exorcism

The centerpiece of Dead Witches‘ sophomore album, The Final Exorcism, is a play on ’60s psych-garage-folk that asks “When Do the Dead See the Sun?,” and the rest of the LP that surrounds provides the answer: The sun isn’t showing up anytime soon, for the dead or otherwise. After issuing their first full-length, Ouija (discussed here), in 2017, the multinational horror-cinema doomers brought aboard vocalist Soozi Chameleone alongside drummer Mark Greening (Ramesses, ex-Electric Wizard), bassist Carl Geary and guitarist Oliver Irongiant, and one might be tempted to think of The Final Exorcism as a kind of second debut were it not for the fact that it’s so cohesive in its approach. With Greening‘s swinging march at the foundation, cuts like the title-track and “The Church by the Sea” stomp out thick-toned and grainy organic creep, plundering through the cacophonous “Lay Demon” en route to the abyssal plod of “Fear the Priest” at the end, fearsome in purpose and realization and hopefully not at all “final.” Like any good horror franchise, there’s always room for another sequel.

Dead Witches on Thee Facebooks

Heavy Psych Sounds website

 

Automaton, TALOS

automaton talos

It was hard to know where Automaton were headed after they remixed their debut EP, Echoes of Mount Ida (review here), and released it in LP format with two additional tracks. The original version was raw and weighted, the remix spacious and psychedelic. With TALOS, their first proper long-player (on Sound Effect Records), they answer the question with seven songs/48 minutes of expansive and richly atmospheric post-metal, seeming to take from all sides and shift their focus between crushing with dense tones on 11-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) “Trapped in Darkness,” as well as the frantically drummed “Automaton Marching,” “The Punisher” or the end stage of “Talos Awakens” and honing more of a varied and atmospheric approach throughout the sample-laced “Giant of Steel,” the drifting “Submerged Again” and the minimalist acoustic-led closer “Epilogue,” all the while donning both an overarching concept and a new level of production value to bolster their presentation. It is a significant step forward on multiple fronts.

Automaton website

Sound Effect Records website

 

Llord, Cumbria

llord cumbria

Raging and experimental, the rumble-laden Barcelona duo Llord make their full-length debut on Féretro Records with Cumbria, which culls together five punishing-but-still-atmospheric tracks of plod and drive as bassist Aris and drummer David share vocal duties and bludgeoning responsibilities alike. Ill-intentioned from the get-go with the two-minute “Adtrita Sententia,” Cumbria unfurls its 29-minute run like a descent into low-end madness, varying speed and the amount of samples involved and bringing in some guest gralla on “Brega” and closer “Kendal/Crewe,” but finding itself in a consistent tonal mire all the same, shouts reverberating upward from it as through trying to claw their way up during the collapse of earth beneath their feet. It is brutal — an extreme vision of atmospheric sludge that makes the concept of a guitar riffing overtop seem like an indulgence that would only dull the impact of the proceedings as they are, which is formidable.

Llord on Bandcamp

Féretro Records on Bandcamp

 

Sweet Jonny, Sweet Jonny

sweet jonny sweet jonny

I can’t claim to be an expert on the ways of Britpunk classic or modern, but UK swagger-purveyors Sweet Jonny weave a heaping dose of snearing attitude into their self-titled, self-release debut album’s 12 tracks, and it comes set up next to a garage rock fuckall that isn’t necessarily contradicted by the actual tightness of the songwriting, given the context in which they’re working. “American Psycho,” well, that’s about American Psycho. “Sick in the Summer?” Well, guess that could be taken multiple ways, but somebody’s sick in any case. You see where this is going, but Sweet Jonny bring character and addled-punk charm to their storytelling lyrics and barebones arrangements of fucked-up guitar, bass and drums. I don’t know what the punkers are into these days, but the vibe here is rude in the classic sense and they bring a good time feel to “Superpunch” and “It Matters Not” — which stretches past the four-minute mark(!) — so what the hell? I’m up for something different.

Sweet Jonny on Thee Facebooks

Sweet Jonny website

 

Warp, Warp

warp warp

If the approval stamp of Nasoni Records isn’t enough to get you on board — and it should be, frankly — the Sabbathian lowercase-‘g’ ghost rock Warp proffer on their self-titled debut is bound to turn heads among the converted. The Tel Aviv-based outfit tear through eight tracks in a crisp, bitingly fuzzed 28 minutes, taking on classic boogie and doom alike before they’re even through opener “Wretched.” They get bonus points for calling their noise interlude “‘Confusion Will Be My Epitaph’ Will Be My Epitaph,’ as well as for the shuffle of “Gone Man” that precedes it and the stomp of “Intoxication” that comes after, the latter a rhythmic complement to the central progression of second cut “Into My Life,” which only departs that snare-snare-snare to soar for a dual-layered solo. Hard not to dig the space-punk edge of “Hey Little Rich Boy II” and the throttled-back stoner nod of closer “Enter the Void,” which is done in under five minutes and still finds room for the album’s best stop-and-crash. Fucking a.

Warp on Bandcamp

Nasoni Records webstore

 

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Friday Full-Length: Electric Wizard & Orange Goblin, Chrono.Naut / Nuclear Guru Split

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 15th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Electric Wizard & Orange Goblin, Split (1998)

Man’s Ruin Records had a thing for 10″ vinyl. Maybe it was cheaper at the time — oddly enough I’m not up on what pressing costs were 22 years ago — or maybe label head Frank Kozik took it as an aesthetic thing, but either way, during the years the imprint was active before sadly going belly-up in 2001/2002, it was responsible for 10″ EP releases from Kyuss, the Melvins, The Heads, Honky, Acid King, Entombed, Desert Sessions, Nebula, Dozer, Church of Misery, Iron Monkey, Fatso Jetson and a slew of others, some of which also wound up seeing issue on CD as splits — that’s also how the various volumes of Desert Sessions were compiled. The two EPs that make up the shared Man’s Ruin release between Electric Wizard and Orange Goblin indeed were issued separately first as 10″ vinyls, with Electric Wizard‘s Chrono.Naut seeing two pressings on purple andelectric wizard chrononaut orange platters starting in Sept. 1997 and Orange Goblin‘s Nuclear Guru two-songer arriving that December in similar fashion on orange vinyl.

Either way, particularly in hindsight, teaming them up seems prescient as to the impact both bands would ultimately have on the heavy underground, especially in the UK. Electric Wizard had offered up their self-titled debut (discussed here) in 1994/1995 through Rise Above, and their landmark second album, Come My Fanatics… arrived earlier in ’97, which put it roughly concurrent to Orange Goblin‘s own debut, Frequencies from Planet Ten (discussed here). Between the two shorter releases, Chrono.Naut was the more distinctive between the vinyl and CD versions, as the single song that comprised the release was split into two parts for the 10″ and presented in its 17-minute entirety on the compact disc. However one might come by it though, it’s essential early Electric Wizard. With the Dorset trio working with the classic lineup of guitarist/vocalist Jus Oborn, bassist Tim Bagshaw and drummer Mark Greening, they answer the call of prime raw Sabbath worship in the song’s first part, rolling out a stoned-as-ElectricWizard nod with an underproduced sensibility that — as the best of the band’s work does — turns that trashy sound into an aesthetic element. At 6:49 or thereabouts into the track, Oborn lets out an “alright!” and the trio shift into a dreamy, spaced-out jam that still holds to that rawness but stands among the most improvised-sounding moments they’ve ever put to tape. Labeled as “Chrono.Naut Phase II (Chaos Revealed),” it remains distinct even among Electric Wizard‘s other longform material, such as the two extended cuts on the Supercoven EP that showed up next year and were more coated in the grit that would soon enough make 2000’s Dopethrone (discussed here) the generation-defining monster it was.

Likewise, it’s strange to listen to Orange Goblin‘s “Nuclear Guru” and their take on “Hand of Doom” and have the one hold up to the other. Kind of blasphemy, right? I mean, that’s not just Black Sabbath — it’s Black Sabbath from Paranoid! But especially listening to the two right next to each other, for the sheer quality of the track, “Nuclear Guru” has every bit as much to offer the listener as “Hand of Doom.” Of course, one would be remiss to overlook the fact that Orange Goblin doesn’t happen without Black Sabbath as an influence — ditto Electric Wizard, while we’re at it — but the point is that hearing the songs side-by-side more than two decades after the fact, they’re both classic. And in the context of its arriving as part of a split with Electric Wizard, “Nuclear Guru” stresses how much of Orange Goblin‘s strength has orange goblin nuclear gurualways been in their songwriting. What was then the five-piece of vocalist Ben Ward (recently wedded; congrats to him), guitarists Joe Hoare and Pete O’Malley, bassist Martyn Millard and drummer Christopher Turner were certainly in their formative stages, but even then, they had the hooks and forward groove that would make their brand of doom rock as hugely influential as it became. And their take on “Hand of Doom” wasn’t just faithful to the original in terms of tone — an accomplishment unto itself — but it still brought the band’s signature stomp to its later verses and a boozer’s psychedelic edge to the leads. As Black Sabbath were just starting to get back together with their original lineup at the time, the homage feels well placed both in terms of showcasing Orange Goblin‘s roots and what they were able to bring to them in order to define their own sound.

All told, it’s about half and hour from two bands who would go on and continue to earn forerunner status in English heavy, their styles being picked up on not only by their peers — one could argue they influenced each other to some degree as well, especially early on — but successive generations of groups in the UK and beyond. They were both entering crucial eras for their approach, as Electric Wizard, as noted, had just put out Come My Fanatics… and would soon move onto Supercoven and Dopethrone, which some would argue as the pinnacle of their work — not me; I’m a believer in 2007’s Witchcult Today (discussed here) as their to-date crown jewel — while Orange Goblin would well earn a reputation for brash doom with Time Travelling Blues (discussed here) in 1998 and The Big Black (discussed here) in 2000. But as much as all things stoner, doom and/or heavy might’ve seemed like outsider art at the time, it’s striking just how sure of what they’re doing both bands sound on their split. There’s no doubt as Electric Wizard jam into oblivion on “Chrono.Naut” or as Orange Goblin shuffle through the later moments of “Nuclear Guru” that they knew what they were after in terms of style, or for that matter that they knew how to make that happen in the writing (or improvising) and recording. Not only were they in it early, they were in it early and kicking ass.

Certainly both would be a factor in establishing the height of their influence on the many who’ve followed the paths they each laid out.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

I let myself sleep in this morning, inadvertently. I woke up at around 2AM and was up for about an hour. With the alarm set for 4, going back to sleep at 3:15 felt needlessly cruel, so I set it for 4:30. When it went off, I turned it off, rolled over to get up and the next thing I knew it was quarter to six. Whoops. So much for productivity early in the day.

Doesn’t particularly matter, but it means that morning nap continues to be the time during which I get the most work done as it has been for the last couple weeks. I don’t love that system, but I don’t love getting up at 3:30 either, so you know, you give and take.

Next week is the Quarterly Review. It will run six days and include 60 albums. There’s a Saint Vitus premiere scheduled as well for Tuesday and maybe another video premiere on Thursday, but other than that, it’s all QR all the way. Expect fewer news posts, because that’s the tradeoff I need to make in order to survive the thing.

Oh, I’m also going to see All Them Witches next week in Boston. That’ll be fun.

And Sunday is a new episode of The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio. It’s a cool one, don’t miss it. 7PM Eastern, Sunday. Replay is Tuesday, 9AM Eastern. Listen at http://gimmeradio.com.

We’ve been down in Jersey all week as The Patient Mrs. has had Spring break (woo!), and that’s been good, but this weekend we’ll head back north in order to facilitate her going back to work Monday evening. It isn’t a short ride, but it’s generally worth the trip to be down here. Where we stay there’s more room for The Pecan to run around — and he does — and he needs all the space he can get. “Little Orc, bru-ra-rum,” and so on.

I’m gonna punch out so I can try and set up the back end of posts for the Quarterly Review before I start to fall asleep at the keyboard, so I’ll just wish you a great and safe weekend and leave it there. Have fun, don’t forget to listen to the Gimme Show, and thanks for reading.

Forum, radio, merch at Dropout.

The Obelisk Forum

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Dead Witches Announce The Final Exorcism Due Feb. 22

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 29th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

dead witches (Photo by Viki Crandon)

I always approach with a certain amount of trepidation when a band puts a word like ‘final’ in an album title since, sometimes even subconsciously, it becomes a signifier that it’s their last outing. Whether or not that’s the case with Dead Witches — who, hey, are already dead to start with — and their second record, The Final Exorcism, I don’t know, but it’s always something that catches my attention. Either way, it’ll be interesting to hear what the Dorset doom specialists conjure up for their sophomore outing following up 2017’s Ouija (discussed here), which will also be their first with Soozi Chameleone of Killing Man Jaroh on vocals.

Of course, the band’s connections to Electric Wizard via Mark Greening are front and center as well, and it’s worth noting that The Final Exorcism brings the drummer once again to Chuckalumba Studios, wherein Dopethrone was recorded way back when, as well as Dead Witches‘ own debut outing.

The PR wire has art and details:

dead witches the last exorcism

DEAD WITCHES UNVEIL ALBUM DETAILS!

‘The Final Exorcism’ To Come In February 2019 On Heavy Psych Sounds!

Haunting vocals, heavy riffs, fuzzed bass, savage drumming, Dead Witches will take you to another world… a world of darkness. Today the band unveiled the hotly anticipated details and cover artwork for their brand new album ‘The Final Exorcism’, due out on February 22nd 2019 with Heavy Psych Sounds Records!

Dead Witches roar back from the studio on two wheels, the Chuckalumba studios, where the fabled sessions for Dopethrone and Let Us Prey by Electric Wizard were recorded and Dead Witches debut Ouija.

The sessions began on the full moon 25th of August in the heart of the New Forest deep in Dorset, the hallowed home of 90’s doom legends and Electric Wizard folklore, marking Mark’s fourth time in both bands at Chuckalumba. John Stephens, operating the living museum of antique analogue and valve driven studio gear and tape machines captured a world of demons and possessions… A banshee wail of woeful siren song weaving a sinister world of horror doom, through waves of burgeoning fuzz and hell sent thunder on the drum kit. Realising the magnitude of what they had committed to tape, Dead Witches began to seek Doug Shearer, wizard of mastering and the final member in the coven. His previous work also includes Dopethrone and Let Us Prey.

‘The Final Exorcism’ will be available in the following formats on Heavy Psych Sounds, with a pre-sale to start on October 31st :

– 25 TEST PRESS VINYL
– 250 LTD GREEN FLUO VINYL
– 500 LTD SPLATTER, TRANSPARENT BACKGROUND RED-PURPLE
– VINYL
– BLACK VINYL
– DIGIPAK
– DIGITAL

[ album artwork by Goatess Doomwych ]

The tracklist will read as follows:
1. There’s Someone There
2. The Final Exorcism
3. Goddess Of The Night
4. When Do The Dead See The Sun
5. The Church By The Sea
6. Lay, Demon
7. Fear The Priest

We will also reissue the Dead Witches debut album Ouija.
The record will be released in early 2019 !!!

Dead Witches Are:
Mark Greening – Assault and Battery
Oliver Irongiant – Guitar
Soozi Chameleone – Vocals
Carl Geary – Fuzz bass

www.facebook.com/DeadWitches
www.heavypsychsounds.com

Dead Witches, Ouija (2017)

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Friday Full-Length: Electric Wizard, We Live

Posted in Bootleg Theater on July 27th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Electric Wizard, We Live (2004)

A turning point, but a remarkably heavy one at that. Electric Wizard‘s fifth full-length, We Live, came out via Rise Above Records in 2004 and was the first album they produced without the original lineup. In the two years since ’02’s Let Us Prey, guitarist/vocalist Jus Oborn oversaw the departure of bassist Tim Bagshaw and drummer Mark Greening, who would go on almost immediately to found Ramesses and make their debut offering in a split with Negative Reaction in 2003. In their place, Oborn brought in bassist Rob Al-Issa and drummer Justin Greaves, and for the first time, a second guitarist in American expat Liz Buckingham, who’d released a couple splits with the New York-based 13 — including one with Grief — during a run from 1990-1996 before joining sludgesters Sourvein for their first two albums and split with Rabies Caste. Personal relationships were involved as well, but bringing Buckingham into Electric Wizard was no less dramatic a shift than seeing the original rhythm section leave, and the sound of We Live bears that out across its seven-song/60-minute run.

Before Let Us Prey, Electric Wizard had issued an unholy trinity in their first three records: their 1995 self-titled debut (discussed here), 1997’s Come My Fanatics… and 2000’s Dopethrone (loosely discussed here). These are the kinds of LPs from which legacies are made, and Electric Wizard‘s is, at least in part, made from them. Let Us Prey, in hindsight, brought a shift in vibe that made it less of a landmark that’s now often overlooked when considering the band’s work, but is nonetheless the last thing they did as the original trio. In bringing aboard Buckingham, Al-Issa and Greaves — the latter of whom also played in UK sludge forerunners Iron MonkeyOborn demonstrated in no uncertain terms his ownership and defining presence in the band. More than ever, Electric Wizard was his and clearly ready to move forward to exploring new ideas and new interpretations of their misanthropic Sabbath and horror worship.

That’s largely what We Live is. But it also pushes Electric Wizard to places they hadn’t yet gone. The first album had plenty of shuffle, but the thrust of “Another Perfect Day?” and “The Living Dead at the Manchester Morgue” are on their own level. And the sense of ritual is palpable in 10-minute opener “Eko Eko Azarak,” which is broken into two parts, ‘Invocation’ and indeed ‘Ritual,’ demonstrating not only the power to harness these different atmospheres on the part of Electric Wizard, but also the awareness of what they’re doing with sound. Even the title-track’s use of cult horror as a metaphor is relevant to what the band would go on to do on subsequent records, and it’s not necessarily the first time Oborn went that route with the lyrics — “Devil’s Bride,” anyone? — electric wizard we livebut it’s in bringing these ideas to such a level of focus that We Live shows how far Electric Wizard had come.

And that’s all well and good, right? Blah blah blah, band grows over time. Standard narrative. Band goes through big lineup change. Super-duper. That shit happens. Constantly. In fact, it’s now been like 15 years since the Bagshaw/Greening days of Electric Wizard came to a close and Oborn and Buckingham are still plowing through rhythm sections on the regular. All of this stuff would be the makings of a perfectly fine album. You know what separates We Live, even from the rest of the Electric Wizard catalog?

It’s fucked.

Totally fucked.

More than anything the band produced before or since, We Live strikes the deadliest balance between rawness and fullness. The addition of Buckingham‘s guitar alongside Oborn‘s plunged the band to entirely new depths of mire. Listen to the tonal filth of the 15-minute “Saturn’s Children” and you’ll find a mega-doom imprint of what Electric Wizard would go on to become. Except the presentation is meaner. With recording by Mathias Schneeberger (The Obsessed, Goatsnake, Fatso Jetson, etc.) and co-production by Oborn, songs like “Flower of Evil AKA Malfiore” and “The Sun Has Turned to Black” — which brilliantly follows “Another Perfect Day?” with a mess of initial feedback and signature lumbering groove — embody the misanthropy the band later espoused as such a crucial part of their aesthetic. The rhythms are grueling, the vibe is stoned to death and the doom rides out so thick that it barely seems to move, regardless of actual tempo. By the time they got around to We Live, Electric Wizard had already had a couple classics under their collective belt, but We Live was the beginning point of an expansion that would take them to new levels in sound and profile alike.

The lineup, naturally, didn’t last. While Oborn and Buckingham would continue to define the core of the band, a series of drummers came and went. Greaves went on to found Crippled Black Phoenix, where he remains to this day, while Al-Issa would serve the Wizard once more on 2007’s ultra-pivotal Witchcult Today (discussed here) before likewise departing for parts unknown. That album, as noted here on multiple occasions, was a reset for Electric Wizard that has in no small way affected everything they’ve done in the 11 years since across three full-lengths: 2010’s Black Masses (review here), 2014’s Time to Die (review here), and last year’s Wizard Bloody Wizard (review here), but it’s important to consider that the shifts Witchcult Today brought about didn’t come out of nowhere, and in We Live one can hear the band beginning to reach out for new ground like the proverbial hand of the undead reaching up from a lonely grave. They’d always been heavy. They’d already become spiteful. This was where they took those things to new levels of punishment and made ready to transcend to their most miserable territories yet.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

I’m not going to give notes for next week. I have a bunch of stuff planned, but screw it. I’m keeping secrets this time around. Tonight I’m going to see Sleep in Brooklyn. I’ll tell you that much.

The rest you’ll have to stay tuned for. It’s gonna be cool.

Thanks for reading. Have a great and safe weekend and don’t forget to check out the forum and radio stream.

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Friday Full-Length: Electric Wizard, Electric Wizard

Posted in Bootleg Theater on January 5th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Electric Wizard, Electric Wizard (1995)

Yeah, yeah, I know. Dopethrone. Come My Fanatics. Hell, Witchcult Today. I know. In the 30 years that Electric Wizard have been operating going back to guitarist/vocalist Jus Oborn founding the Dorset-based outfit as Lord of Putrefaction in 1988 before becoming Thy Grief Eternal a couple years later and ultimately Electric Wizard in 1993, the band has produced a couple genuine classics, and their 1995 self-titled debut, issued as catalog number nine by Lee Dorrian of Cathedral‘s Rise Above Records with the lineup of Oborn, bassist Tim Bagshaw and drummer Mark Greening, generally isn’t considered in the same tier. But I ask you, have human beings ever come closer to capturing the guitar tone of Master of Reality than Oborn does on “Black Butterfly?”

I don’t think I’m taking anything away from the accomplishments of Dopethrone in 2000 or Come My Fanatics… before it in 1997 by pointing out the foundation that the eight-song/47-minute self-titled laid, essentially allowing them to happen. Its arrival in 1995 doesn’t quite put it at the forefront of the mid-’90s stoner rock wave — recall Monster Magnet issued Spine of God in 1991, Sleep unveiled Sleep’s Holy Mountain and Kyuss had their Blues for the Red Sun both in 1992 — and certainly by the time they get down to the central rolling riff of “Electric Wizard,” they seem at least to have been affected somewhat by the rays of Sleep‘s new stoner sun rising, but Electric Wizard‘s Electric Wizard arrived roughly concurrent to Acrimony‘s 1994 debut, Hymns to the Stone, and particularly for a time before the internet went mainstream as a means of sharing music even via word of mouth let alone actual file transfer protocols, it represents a landmark in the development of what would become UK heavy. While it seems relatively simple in aesthetic 23 years later — it is stoned. forever. — its Sabbathian loyalties flew in the face of what was happening at the time. 1995? Sabbath were still three years off from reuniting with Ozzy. They released Forbidden that year; the last installment of the Tony Martin era, and were largely considered a relic. For a group like Electric Wizard to so brazenly take on their early work as a central point of influence, even with groups like the Melvins roaming the earth for however long already, was a decidedly bold statement.

And not only did Electric Wizard transpose this inspiration into a context of the stoner rock of the time, but by doing so, they bridged the gap between that style and classic doom in a way that even Orange Goblin — who got their start as Our Haunted Kingdom in 1994 and would release their debut, Frequencies from Planet Ten, in 1997 — wouldn’t seem interested in directly engaging. To listen to cuts like opener “Stone Magnet” or the suitably lumbering “Behemoth” is to find Electric Wizard‘s self-titled living up to the old adage of proper doom being as much ahead of its time as behind it; timeless by the simple and not-at-all-simple fact of its not fitting its own age. Whether it’s the drifting psych interlude “Mountains of Mars” or the nodder chug and swing of “Mourning Prayer” before it, the brazenness of the approach here not only is what allows the album to function, but it portends the fuckall that would become such a core factor of Electric Wizard‘s aesthetic contribution to doom over the next two-plus decades. Stoned, obsessed with horror, dropped out of life and generally not giving a shit about who knows it — one finds all these aspects at play to some degree throughout “Devil’s Bride,” “Electric Wizard,” “Black Butterfly” and “Mourning Prayer,” and especially given the scope of what Oborn and Electric Wizard would go on to produce in this album’s wake, it seems to me it deserves no less consideration than anything they’ve done in their time together, no matter who’s in the lineup for a given LP.

Of course, they have a new record out in the form of late 2017’s Wizard Bloody Wizard (review here), and I’ve got that in mind as well in thinking about the ongoing impact of this first outing and how their origins have led them to become the band they have. Thinking back across 2014’s Time to Die (review here), 2010’s Black Masses (review here), that lineage seems almost to have been reset by Witchcult Today (discussed here) in 2007 following the somewhat awkward but utterly filthy mid-period releases Let us Prey and We Live in 2002 and 2004, respectively, but even that album drew from the ethic of Electric Wizard in speaking to the groove and malevolent vibing that goes so far in making Electric Wizard‘s riffing seem just that much nastier than the legions they’ve now influenced. No question the self-titled has been overshadowed in the years since its release, but its place in the conversation and in the canon should be assured both by its own merits and by the catalog it began to unfurl, which is one of the richest and most pivotal in the doom of any era.

As always, I hope you enjoy, and thanks for reading.

Just came in a bit ago from doing a second round of snow shoveling. Turns out I’m brutally out of shape. Viciously so. Doesn’t help the fact that it’s a foot-plus of densely-packed, heavy snowfall that came down yesterday across the wintry hellscape of January Massachusetts, but yeah, I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge there were times in my life when getting rid of it would’ve been way easier. Also I’m old.

Nothing like a solid humbling in the morning to keep the ego in check. Imagine where one might be otherwise.

I’ll go back out in a few minutes and shovel more, spread salt, move the car, etc., but yeah, it was a pretty brutal bit of weather dumped on us yesterday, and today’s supposed to be bitter cold and 50mph wind gusts, which actually makes me more nervous because I have about zero faith in the infrastructure of the electrical grid in this region. Last time a mean breeze blew we were out for like four days. The baby was three days old. He’s over two months now, but when it’s -20 out, that’s also a factor one has to consider. Blah. We’ll figure it out.

Hope you’re warm, wherever you are.

Next week is the Quarterly Review. I’ve set up at this point none of the back end, so I’m a little nervous about how that’s gonna get done, but it will. I’ll be working on it this weekend, to be sure, but it’ll be fine. We’ll get there. As of right now, that’s the only thing planned for the week, so I’m not going to list notes or anything like that, but I might work in a Six Dumb Questions along the way or some video posts or stuff like that with the usual batches of news and so on. There’s a lot to come, and then the entire week after next is already booked with premieres and streams, so there’s that. Keep an eye out.

Please have a great and safe weekend. I’m back out to do more shoveling. I hope you’re enjoying 2018. I know it’s the future and all, but please don’t forget to check out the forum and the radio stream. One more time, thanks for reading.

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Electric Wizard, Wizard Bloody Wizard: This Dying World

Posted in Reviews on November 2nd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Electric Wizard Wizard Bloody Wizard

And so the scumbag overlords return to once more claim their position at the top of the heap they’ve made. Electric Wizard are inarguably one of the most influential doom bands of their generation, with nearly 30 years of history going back to guitarist/vocalist Jus Oborn‘s founding of Lord of Putrefaction in 1988, which begat Thy Grief Eternal circa 1991 before taking shape as Electric Wizard ahead of the band’s 1995 self-titled debut. In the 22 years since that record hit, much has changed, of course, but with their ninth long-player, Wizard Bloody Wizard — licensed to Spinefarm Records through the band’s own Witchfinder Records imprint — the band reaffirms much of what has led to their longevity in terms of style and songwriting.

In some ways, the Dorset, UK-based outfit have existed in their own shadow since marking something of a comeback with 2007’s landmark Witchcult Today (discussed here), and subsequent LPs, Black Masses (review here) in 2010 and Time to Die (review here) in 2014, found the group working to develop ideas and themes largely along similar lines, and largely succeeding, but as Oborn, guitarist Liz Buckingham, bassist Clayton Burgess (also Satan’s Satyrs) and drummer Simon Poole step into the willfully-crafted muck of Wizard Bloody Wizard‘s six-track/42-minute span, they bring something of a pivot toward a rawer, less directly cultish sound. The change is due if not overdue and has been part of the discussion for as long as the band has been talking about the proverbial “next album,” but to have it manifest here in songs like “Necromania” and “Wicked Caresses” underscores the band’s tie between holding fast to the elements that have worked in their favor since classic outings like 1997’s Come My Fanatics… and 2000’s Dopethrone (discussed here) and attempting to move forward into a pivot in style if not an actual leap.

The trick to Electric Wizard is and has been for at least the last decade that they sound like the human embodiment of fuckall. One can put on an Electric Wizard track like the chugging, feedback-laden “See You in Hell,” hear Oborn‘s addled drawl, the rawness of tone and the lumbering progression, and hear a signature attitude on the part of the band that seems to advocate checking out of life by following its example at having already long since done so. This has made the band forerunners in witch doom, wizard doom, cult doom, garage doom — whatever you want to call it — but as a feat of craft it’s all the more impressive when one engages the details.

To wit, if they actually didn’t give a crap, Wizard Bloody Wizard wouldn’t be nearly as impeccably mixed as it is, promoting depth as well as a touch of atmosphere while still fostering barebones tonality and an overarching lack of flourish in all tracks save perhaps for the three-minute horror-themed drifter interlude “The Reaper.” Poole‘s drums wouldn’t come through as clearly and crisply as they do if they were actually lazily tracked, and frankly, songs like “Necromania,” “Hear the Sirens Scream” and “Wicked Caresses” wouldn’t be nearly as catchy as they are while also feeding into a larger, full-LP flow that presents “See You in Hell,” “Necromania” and “Hear the Sirens Scream” as a one-two-three salvo of hooks on side A while sleeking deeper into the VHS-grit mire on side B with “The Reaper” before returning to solid ground on “Wicked Caresses” before letting consciousness fade at last on 11-minute closer “Mourning of the Magicians.” None of this is haphazard, whatever superficial impressions the band might make — and want to make — to the contrary.

electric wizard

On their own level, Electric Wizard are absolute professionals — arguably all the more so here since they’re recording themselves and releasing in part through their own label — and the maturity of their approach comes through this material without sacrificing its dark vitality or the core attitude necessary to carry it. Oh yeah, a part sounds sloppy? It’s supposed to. That’s the idea. The filthier, the nastier Electric Wizard are able to come across, the more they’ve succeeded in realizing one of their most essential tenets. And among the generation of imitators they’ve spawned, almost no one has been able to do the same thing as well as they do it. Wizard Bloody Wizard, with its tossoff Sabbathian title, classless cover art, and seeming trashcan simplicity of presentation, reaffirms all of it. Electric Wizard have beat the system. Again.

Their themes as ever set in drugs, horror, murder, disaffection, and so on, one might accuse Oborn and company of playing to familiar elements in their work — still, in other words, existing in that shadow. As “Mourning of the Magicians” talks about the children of Saturn amid its intertwining layers of chug and wah-caked lead guitar, and “Necromania” seems to call back to “Venus in Furs” from Black Masses in its psychosexual vibe, that argument might prove valid, but there’s no question that in texture and overarching sound, Electric Wizard have indeed pulled off a turn in these tracks, away from the swirl and toward the churn, generally speaking. That’s not to say the organ-led “The Reaper” or the dirge-marching “Mourning of the Magicians” — in the chorus of which Oborn delivers the title-line to “See You in Hell,” tying the first and last songs together for yet another display of underlying cohesion — are lacking in ambience, just that they take a slightly different route to get there than they might have on the last couple records.

Whatever else they do sonically or in terms of songwriting, Electric Wizard brook no middle ground when it comes to opinion. “Yes!” or “Yuck!,” but almost never “meh,” in terms of audience responses, and whichever category a given listener might fall into, one doubts Wizard Bloody Wizard will do much to sway the opinions of those whose minds are already made up, but when engaged on its own level and taken in appreciation for the subtlety that exists beneath its purposefully harsh and at times gleefully wretched exterior, there’s little else one can call it but the band’s finest work in the decade since Witchcult Today. It may or may not be the beginning of a next stage of their already storied and massively successful career — and in a way that’s not something we can know until they follow it up — but by changing the balance of aspects already relevant to their style, Electric Wizard have managed to find new life in their craft while still cloaking themselves in the unmistakable stink of death. There’s a reason they are who they are.

Electric Wizard, “See You in Hell” official video

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Electric Wizard Evoke Classic Sabbath in “See You in Hell” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on September 29th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

electric wizard

You know the clip, right? Almost certainly if you’re of a certain age and were a witness to the original coming of Beavis and Butt-Head on MTV. It’s Black Sabbath standing in front of a blue-screen with a bunch of weird projections playing out behind them and then “Iron Man” plays and they do the riff and Beavis calls out one of the heads for looking like Paul Schaffer and you’re a kid and it’s the ’90s and so everything’s hilarious but it’s also maybe the first time you’re really hearing Black Sabbath and they’re also kind of kicking your ass in a way you can’t really articulate yet. Relive the nostalgia here. A pretty emotionally complex moment — again, if you’re of a certain age — and it would seem to be that precise video with which Electric Wizard are in dialogue in their new clip for “See You in Hell.” Not by any means a bad choice.

“See You in Hell” is the opening track on Electric Wizard‘s forthcoming LP, Wizard Bloody Wizard, which is out Nov. 10 via Spinefarm Records and the band’s own Witchfinder Records imprint. The song doesn’t actually deliver its own title line — that comes later in the 11-minute closer “Mourning of the Magicians” — but it does leadoff the record with a telling display of tone and set the very-much-ElectricWizardly perspective in its hook, “This dying world gasps its last breath as we turn off our minds/All hope is lost/There’ll be no new dawn/And all of your dreams will die.” Yeah, the start-stop riff is awesome, and yeah, Electric Wizard — guitarist/vocalist Jus Oborn, guitarist Liz Buckingham, bassist Clayton Burgess (also Satan’s Satyrs) and drummer Simon Poole — sound filthy as hell, but I think one of the least appreciated aspects of what they do and what Oborn does as a songwriter is make nihilism catchy.

Yeah, you’re high and don’t give a shit about anything and that’s great, but on the other hand you just made your fuckall one of 2017’s catchiest hooks. It’s the great irony of Electric Wizard‘s work and in cuts like “Necromania” and “Wicked Caresses,” it’s as prevalent as ever throughout Wizard Bloody Wizard.

More to come on the album (like, say, a review) as we get closer to the release date. In the meantime, dig into the classic Sabbo-vibe of “See You in Hell” and enjoy:

Electric Wizard, “See You in Hell” official video

UK cult legends ELECTRIC WIZARD have premiered the video for the new song “See You in Hell,” which singer/guitarist Jus Osborn called “the most brutally simple and Neanderthal song ever.”

The song appears on Wizard Bloody Wizard, the long-anticipated new LP, which is full of cranium-crushing bludgeon rock – a relentless aural brain rape and, like the band’s beloved vintage horror/exploitation movies, definitely not for those of a nervous disposition.

Wizard Bloody Wizard arrives via Witchfinder/Spinefarm on November 10.

ELECTRIC WIZARD ARE:
Jus Oborn – guitar/vocals
Liz Buckingham – guitar
Simon Poole – drums
Clayton Burgess – bass

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