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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Electric Wizard Announce Wizard Bloody Wizard Due Nov. 10; “See You in Hell” Streaming Now

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 10th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

electric wizard

Did you get your preorder in for Electric Wizard‘s Wizard Bloody Wizard yet? Something tells me that the release between Spinefarm Records and the band’s own Witchfinder Records won’t exactly be in short supply, but hey, better safe than sorry. Preorders also come with a download of the album opener “See You in Hell,” which you can hear below because the internet, and which gives an immediately rawer impression from its self-recorded sound than did anything on their last offering, 2014’s Time to Die (review here), which was perhaps overstaying its welcome in the cultish psychedelic swirl proffered as well across the prior two records.

While I haven’t heard the full thing so can’t really speak to it, at least going from “See You in Hell,” this time around it feels much more geared toward churn. That’s fair enough to the roots of the band, but again, we’ll see what happens when Nov. 10 gets here and their ninth full-length is actually released. They’ve got an opportunity to walk away with a late entry as album of the year. I’ve heard some great records in 2017, but I’m still waiting for the one that defines the year as a whole. Electric Wizard just might be totally fucked enough sounding to do it. One can only hope they take advantage.

Spinefarm posted the preorder info thusly:

electric-wizard-wizard-bloody-wizard

Electric Wizard – Wizard Bloody Wizard

‘Wizard Bloody Wizard’ is the long anticipated new LP from UK cult legends ELECTRIC WIZARD and, man, is it HEAVY!!!! 43 minutes 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.

The LP’s stunning all analogue recording has been produced by Jus Oborn and Liz Buckingham (guitars) in their own ‘Satyr IX Recording Studio’….

Pre order ‘Wizard Bloody Wizard’ here: https://spinefarmrecords.lnk.to/bloodywizard

“Wizard Bloody Wizard” track listing:
01. See You In Hell
02. Necromania
03. Hear The Sirens Scream
04. The Reaper
05. Wicked Caresses
06. Mourning Of The Magicians

Album Release Date Is November 10th 2017

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, “See You in Hell”

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Friday Full-Length: Electric Wizard, Witchcult Today

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 18th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Electric Wizard, Witchcult Today (2007)

Even a decade later, it’s hard to fully assess the influence Electric Wizard‘s sixth album has had, because that influence, like the band’s witchcult itself in the lyrics of the opening title-track, is still growing. Released in 2007 on Rise Above Records, Witchcult Today was a genuine landmark moment. For the band, it was such a turnabout and such a feeling of comeback that it was hard to believe it had only been three years since the band released the prior We Live, which introduced guitarist Liz Buckingham (formerly of 13 and Sourvein) to the lineup of the already-influential Dorset doomers alongside founder Jus Oborn. Electric Wizard had by then long since established themselves as crucial to the sphere of underground doom via the unholy trinity of their first three albums — 1995’s Electric Wizard, 1997’s Come My Fanatics… and 2000’s Dopethrone (discussed here) — and perhaps part of the reason Witchcult Today was so able to blindside their listenership and so greatly add to their reputation as stylistic forerunners was because 2002’s Let us Prey and the aforementioned We Live seemed to be searching for a new direction after hitting such a peak with their initial approach, but whatever did it, Witchcult Today brought a new generation of listeners under Electric Wizard‘s droner-stoner spell and perhaps even more than Dopethrone stands as the single most important work the band has done to-date. Without it, one can only wonder if cult doom would exist as it does.

There’s not really much secret to the approach of Witchcult Today, and whatever else one might accuse Electric Wizard of being throughout their nearly 25-year tenure — preceded by Oborn‘s time in Lord of Putrefaction and Thy Grief Eternal — they’ve never been subtle. But while Let us Prey and We Live descended into weedian scummer sludge and grew more abrasive in their overall affect, the unmanageable 59-minute/eight-track Witchcult Today brought that resin-coated filth to new levels of aesthetic achievement. At least partial credit has to go to Liam Watson at Toe Rag Studios, whose recording and mixing job highlighted the absolute tonal murk of Oborn and Buckingham‘s guitars and the depths of Rob Al-Issa‘s basslines while still allowing Oborn‘s vocals and Shaun Rutter‘s drums to cut through and provide listeners a lifeline so as to not get lost in the hazy onslaught — at least until the 11-minute penultimate instrumental, “Black Magic Rituals and Perversions,” where getting listeners lost is clearly the intention — but however more resonant the tracks became through the manner in which they were recorded on vintage gear and compiled at the mixing console, one can’t discount the raw achievement of songwriting on Witchcult Today either. There simply isn’t a miss. As “Witchcult Today” marched/oozed into subsequent tracks like the shuffling “Dunwich” and the drawling “Satanic Rites of Drugula,” Electric Wizard beat their audience over the head with riff after riff, hook after hook, and created an atmosphere of such memorable craft that even as they basically reused the rhythm of “Witchcult Today” in “The Chosen Few” and seemed to answer the opener’s riff in closer “Saturnine,” the tiny differences from one to the other to the other stood out and made all three songs highlight pieces only bolstered by their redundancy. It’s supposed to be a slog. You wouldn’t die otherwise.

And whether it was the interlude “Raptus” or the sampled whispers deep into “Black Magic Rituals and Perversions,” Witchcult Today boasted an ambience to match the grab-your-brain-and-melt-it catchiness of “Torquemada ’71” — the theme for a grainy horror movie that was never made — making its aesthetic impact all the more pivotal. The darkened swirl of “Saturnine” at the end of the record affirmed the fixation on death, misanthropy and cultish thematics, but even as the four-piece pushed outward to a noisy deconstruction of the bleak, stoned and sprawling world they created, they held fast to the hypnotic sensibility that typified the album as a whole. The tie-in between that hypnosis, the catchiness of their choruses, the sheer will of repetition executed, the lyrical references to old horror flicks speaking directly to the converted, and the sense of presence that came through Watson‘s mix made Witchcult Today absolutely work on every level in a way that Electric Wizard never had before, even on their early releases, which many will still argue as the pinnacle of the band. Like I said, there just wasn’t a miss, and I think the massive influence Witchcult Today has had over the last 10 years and continues to have speaks to this achievement in aesthetic. It’s early for such proclaiming, but no question the time will come when we speak about this record as a classic in doom. Already it serves as one of the most essential LPs of the 2000s.

Its influence would prove to be as much internal as external as well. In 2010, they followed Witchcult Today with Black Masses (review here), which renewed their collaboration with Watson and with songs like “Satyr IX,” “Black Mass,” and “Crypt of Drugula” felt very much informed by what the 2007 outing had established. Likewise, their 2012 tape EP, Legalise Drugs and Murder (review here) derived its title-track from a redux on “The Chosen Few,” and it seemed that even five years later, Electric Wizard were still affected by the scope of what they’d manage to bring to bear on Witchcult Today. 2014’s Time to Die (review here) — produced again by Watson, mixed by Chris Fielding — marked a shift to Spinefarm Records after a falling out with Rise Above, was their longest offering yet at 66 minutes and dug righteousness out of its chaotic gruel, but ultimately seemed staid more like it was playing to form of the two full-lengths before it rather than pushing farther in the way that one could say even Black Masses did via its more psychedelic take.

Rumors have abounded for more than a year at this point about release dates for a ninth Electric Wizard full-length being in various stages of production and/or readiness for release, and among the most encouraging aspects of an initial announcement put out last Spring was that the band was seeking a “fresh turn of the turf” in terms of their sound. Does that mean they’ll innovate their style with the kind of freshness they brought to Witchcult Today a decade ago? Can lightning strike three times for a group who already enjoy status as having made some of the most fundamental contributions to doom? Last I heard, we might find out before the end of the year. As to what actually happens when the next Electric Wizard surfaces, or when that actually will happen, only a fool would dare to offer any prediction.

As always, I hope you enjoy. Thanks for reading.

Well, this weekend is turning out to be much different than was initially conceived. By the time you read this, The Patient Mrs. and I will very likely already be in New Jersey, which was not at all the original intent. An ambulance took my 102-year-old maternal grandmother to the hospital yesterday afternoon, and well, there’s little more you can do than get up at 4AM and get your ass out the door as quickly as possible to be there for your family. Gotta go, gotta go.

My original intention for the day had been to go see Anathema tonight in Boston, because I so very much enjoyed their new album and would like to see them again. Had a photo pass set up and everything. Not gonna happen.

I’ve also been back and forth with the Gozu dudes about doing an in-studio with them as they track their next record in New Hampshire, currently in progress. That was supposed to be tomorrow. Up in the air right now.

Everything is pretty much pending what the situation is with my grandmother. They said she broke her hip and no one really knows how. She’s old enough that, frankly, it could’ve just happened by moving or bumping into the corner of a table or something, but old people and busted hips. You know how it goes. Apparently she’s not really awake. There’s a consult this morning with an orthopedist, after which we’ll hopefully know more. Everyone’s very upset, myself included to be honest, but it’ll be what it’ll be.

My mind is elsewhere as I’m sure you can imagine, but here’s a quick rundown of how next week may or may not shake out as per my notes:

Mon.: Kal-El album stream/review; maybe Gozu in-studio.
Tue.: Grande Royale stream/review; Vokonis vinyl giveaway.
Wed.: Queens of the Stone Age review; Six Dumb Questions with Pagan Altar.
Thu.: Blackfinger track premiere/review; maybe R.I.P. track premiere as well.
Fri.: Grigax review.

Busy busy busy, and again, all of this is subject even more to change than usual pending how the above pans out, what state I’m in mentally and geographically at what point, and so on. Sorry to be vague but there’s just a lot right now I don’t really know. That’s the basic shape I hope to give next week. We’ll see if I can make it happen.

This weekend is Psycho Las Vegas. I was supposed to go. I didn’t. Kind of a long story there, and not entirely pleasant, but if you’re there, I hope it’s a blast and that you have a great and safe time. If you’re elsewhere, I hope the same. Either way, please take a few minutes if you have them to check out the forum and radio stream, and thanks once again for reading.

The Obelisk Forum

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The Wounded Kings Call it Quits

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 15th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

the wounded kings-700

I’ll admit to being somewhat taken aback by this one, not the least because it seemed reasonable to think that if something was going to kill The Wounded Kings, it would’ve happened by now. The UK progressive doom outfit led by founding guitarist Steve Mills has been through multiple lineups at this point, so I can’t help but wonder just what the hell happened this time that was so different. They’re just weeks from the release of their fifth album, Visions in Bone, so even the timing on their disbanding feels odd. Needless to say, they’ll be missed.

During their time together, from the release of their 2008 debut, Embrace of the Narrow HouseThe Wounded Kings were a persistently, relentlessly creative force in doom. They toyed with cult rock convention and post-Electric Wizard psychedelic swirl, but always brought their influences into an individualized context. In that and in the atmospheric breadth of their records, they were thoroughly underappreciated. Each of their outings offered something distinct from the others — part of that is because of the lineup changes around Mills at the core — but while there were personnel shifts, there was never any dip in quality, and that extends to Visions in Bone as well, which will apparently be the capstone on their tenure.

Have to wonder what the future holds for Mills, vocalist George Birch, bassist Alex Kearney and drummer Myke Heath. When/if I hear of anything, I’ll let you know. Until then, here’s the announcement from the band:

the wounded kings rip

R.I.P The Wounded Kings 2004 – 2016

By now you will have seen the earlier posts and in response to one comment sorry buddy…. no this is not a publicity stunt!

12 years is a pretty good innings for a band these days and there has been well documented instances when the journey could well have ended years ago. Sadly that day has finally arrived. We’ve had a wild ride with some truly amazing shows and met many awesome people along the way. Many of you have become great friends. For that we are truly grateful!

I’m sure many of you are thinking this is all rather sudden but to be honest it’s probably been 6 months in the making. We’ve tried to cling onto the sinking ship for as long as possible…too long if truth be told!. Little did we know that when we recorded ‘Visions in Bone’ a year ago (yes that fuckin’ long!!) it would end up being our Swan Song!

A massive thank you to everyone who has supported us, came to the shows, bought our merch, shared beers, gave us a place to sleep, made us food, did our posters…the list is endless. Most of all thank you to those who believed in us…without you none of this would ever have been possible.

Steve, Alex, Myke and George

https://www.facebook.com/thewoundedkings
https://twitter.com/TheWoundedKings
https://woundedkings.bandcamp.com/

The Wounded Kings, Live in London, March 27, 2016

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Electric Wizard Announce New Album Due this Halloween

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 5th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

Having headlined this past weekend at Desertfest in London and Berlin, and ahead of playing Psycho Las Vegas this August, Up in Smoke in October and likely more to be announced, UK doom mainstays Electric Wizard announce the Halloween release of a new studio album. Yet untitled, the upcoming Electric Wizard LP is set to arrive through their own Witchfinder Records imprint, a subsidiary of Spinefarm Records, and will follow-up 2014’s Time to Die (review here). Adding intrigue to the prospect is the statement below that the ninth Electric Wizard outing will “represent a fresh turn of the turf.” I’m not entirely sure what it means, but it’s an intriguing thought either way.

Just off the PR wire:

Electric Wizard

ELECTRIC WIZARD TO RELEASE NEW STUDIO ALBUM IN 2016

DELIVERY EXPECTED IN TIME FOR HALLOWEEN RELEASE VIA SPINEFARM RECORDS…

Spinefarm Records are aware that free and wild cult leaders, ELECTRIC WIZARD, are working on their ninth studio album, with delivery expected in time for a Halloween 2016 release.

This is all the information available. The whereabouts of the band and the recording / mixing details are not currently known, but more news should follow in due course…

This new offering will be the follow-up to 2014’s ‘Time to Die’ – which can be purchased HERE– and will be the second release on the band’s ‘Witchfinder Records’ imprint, the result of a worldwide deal with Spinefarm Records.

‘Time to Die’ effectively closed the lid on a particular part of the band’s career, and this new album will represent a fresh turn of the turf…

Until that time, get your fix of pure evil at one of these live performances:-

08/26/16 – Psycho Las Vegas, Las Vegas, US

EW recently headlined ‘Desertfest’ in both Berlin and London, finishing off the festivals (and the attendees’ ear drums) with the sort of performances that have made them the true gate-keepers of UK metal’s great & glorious traditions.

For More Info Visit:
www.electricfuckinwizard.com
www.youtube.com/user/ElectricFuckinWizard
http://electricwizard.merchnow.com/

Electric Wizard, Live at Desertfest Berlin 2016

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