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.

The Obelisk Forum

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Sat-r-dee Electric Wizard (Full Discography)

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 11th, 2012 by JJ Koczan

This is kind of how I know we, as a people, have it too easy. Not even that you can in the span of 30 seconds click onto a website and look up Electric Wizard‘s complete studio discography, but that in another two seconds, you can also find the video of all their splits, EPs and singles as well. I’m not saying it’s right, I’m not saying it’s wrong, I’m just saying it’s really fucking easy. Almost too easy. I haven’t been through the full seven and a half hours of the clip above, but something so easy, you’d almost have to suspect it’s a trap and that three hours in, the floor will drop out and you’ll fall into a dungeon.

I know I’d said the Scott Kelly interview would be up this week. I did say that. That interview was supposed to happen Tuesday and it got moved to Friday at 4PM, so it was obviously going to be too late to get it up. Joe Axler of Samothrace was an awesome conversation though, so hopefully you dug that. The Scott Kelly interview was a good one. It’ll be up this week coming, as soon as I can transcribe it.

Audio too this week from Order of the Owl. Monday or Tuesday I’ll have their new EP, In the Noon of the After Day, streaming in full, and it’s pretty killer stuff from the trio, which features former Zoroaster bassist/vocalist Brent Anderson. Definitely worth sticking around for. There will also be a giveaway for some copies of their Cocaine Super Demon 7″, so that’ll be fun as well, and I’ll have reviews of the new Om and Enslaved albums, among others. Eggnogg is playing in Brooklyn tomorrow night at Goodbye Blue Monday, and I have some family-type stuff that requires my presence, but if I can get there afterwards, I’d very much like to. We’ll see how it goes.

In the meantime, I’ve got an interview slated with Chad Davis of Hour of 13 tomorrow (he also plays in Tasha-Yar, which I will no doubt ask about) and a bunch of work to do between now and then, so maybe listening to seven-plus hours of Electric Wizard in a row will be good for productivity. I can’t imagine any scenario in which that will actually turn out to be the case, but what the hell, it might be fun to try.

See you on the forum and back here Monday for another album of the summer of the week and more riff-led good times.

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