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.

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Psycho Las Vegas 2019 Adds Electric Wizard, Fu Manchu, Graveyard, Clutch, Amenra, Deafheaven and More

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 20th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

psycho las vegas 2019 logo

If we’ve learned anything at all about Psycho Las Vegas in the last few years, it’s that Psycho is gonna do its own shit its own way. It’s not about being the American Roadburn, or about being a non-suck Coachella. It’s Psycho Las Vegas. It’s its own thing, and to think otherwise is simply to have a mistaken impression. If you’ve been, you know this already.

It would seem to be in that spirit that where every other fest doles out its lineup either at once or piecemeal in a succession of announcements — trust me, I know: I write them — Psycho is once again doing its thing its way. With barely any text whatsoever, band posters have been trickling out through the Psycho Las Vegas Instagram, and if you’ve been paying attention, you’ve started to see some of the festival take shape. There was a first announcement way back in November, and I’m sure when it’s all said and done they’ll have more official word, but until then, it’s worth keeping your eyes open to see how it’s playing out. I’m trying to keep up as best I can.

To that end:

We’re upping the ante and taking this party to the strip. Join us August 16-18, 2019 at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino for Psycho Las Vegas––featuring four stages, late night parties, and exclusive performances you won’t see anywhere else. Early Bird + Tier I tickets are on sale now at vivapsycho.com.

Lineup so far:
Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats
High on Fire
Glassjaw
YOB
Perturbator
Kadavar
Oranssi Pazuzu
Electric Wizard
Fu Manchu
Graveyard
Amenra
Deafheaven
Old Man Gloom
Clutch
Power Trip
Bad Religion
Rotting Christ

America’s rock ‘n’ roll bacchanal returns as PSYCHO LAS VEGAS brings its annual debauchery and unbridled volume to the Strip itself, with a move to the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino that sets the stage for a Las Vegas Boulevard takeover, the likes of which have never been seen.

Slated for August 16th through August 18th, PSYCHO LAS VEGAS 2019 will feature four stages, including the newly renovated Events Center, the iconic House Of Blues, the Mandalay Bay Beach, featuring a wave pool and lazy river, and an old-school Vegas-style Lounge smack dab in the middle of the casino floor. While all of the venues are located on the property, Mandalay Bay is connected by a complimentary tram service that provides easy access to affordable accommodations such as Luxor and Excalibur. Attendees will have access to discounted rates at all of these properties and other MGM hotels and resorts down the Strip.

The highly coveted “Psycho Special” passes, notorious for selling out instantly, are priced at $99, plus taxes and fees and go on sale Thursday, November 29th at 10:00am PST. Weekender General Admission passes are priced at $249, plus taxes and fees, and will increase to $299, plus taxes and fees, once the first tier sells out. Only 300 High Roller VIP passes will be sold at $499, plus taxes and fees, with package details to be announced in December. Single-day tickets will be available in the Spring at $109, plus taxes and fees. While the festival format will remain largely the same as previous years, the Thursday pre-party at DAYLIGHT Beach Club will be a more intimate event for attendees and will require a separate ticket from the festival pass. Tickets and more information available at VivaPsycho.com.

https://www.facebook.com/events/2035404693146567/
https://www.facebook.com/psychoLasVegas/
https://www.instagram.com/psycholasvegas/
http://vivapsycho.com

Fu Manchu, Live in Vancouver, BC, Nov. 11, 2018

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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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Up in Smoke 2018 Adds Electric Wizard, Ancestors, Dopethrone, Messa, Child, Humulus and Giant Sleep to its Lineup

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 28th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Very cool that Electric Wizard are headlining Up in Smoke 2018. Very cool. Not saying it isn’t. And right on that DopethroneMessa, ChildHumulus — have to wonder if they’ll bring their own beer — and Giant Sleep are playing too. Awesome. The name I want to focus on here, however, is Ancestors. The returned/reactivated Los Angeles unit will have their new album out on Pelagic Records by the time they head to Europe to play Up in Smoke presumably as part of a larger round of touring, and I’m pretty sure I’ve said this already, but watch out for that fucking record. Really. It’s a stunner.

2018 has already seen a fair share of righteous outings — I’d list them here, but you know, stolen laptop — and a couple real landmarks are still to come, but don’t let the new Ancestors get by you just because it’s been a while since they put anything out. I’ll have more to say about it, I’m sure, because it’s the kind of record about which one doesn’t easily shut up, but yeah. Take it as an(other) early heads up.

Here’s Up in Smoke‘s announcement:

up in smoke 2018 poster

UP IN SMOKE 2018 – ELECTRIC WIZARD & 6 MORE ACTS CONFIRMED!

GET YOUR CHANCE TO WIN A WEEKEND PASS!

Up In Smoke Indoor Fest 2018 has just announced a bunch of new bands, including their second headliner: The almighty ELECTRIC WIZARD, bringing their new album “Wizard Bloody Wizard” to make Pratteln tremble once again! Also confirmed:

DOPETHRONE (CAN) – The riff comes in many forms. Sometimes it’s clean and elegant… sometimes it’s filthy, grimy and about as elegant as a sledgehammer to the sternum. “Dopethrone are the kind of humans that eat the blues for lunch and wash it all down with a giant jug of crust punch! This is one of those bands that will have the crusty punks head banging right next to the stoners, both united under the bad sign of doom.” (CVLT NATION) The Canadian trio released their new album “Transcanadian Anger” few days ago!

ANCESTORS (USA) – Ancestors formed in 2006 and instead of “choosing between prog rock or heavy rock,” merged the styles to create music rife with atmosphere, tension and raw human emotion. They create mighty, modern music that dovetails innovative arrangement, crushing primordial riff interplay and melodic instrumental passages with textural atmospherics. They will release their long-awaited new album this summer via Pelagic Records.

MESSA (IT) – Messa play evoking doom metal with a dark jazz twist. Deliciously haunting female vocals, rhodes piano and 70’s fuzz guitars combine to conjure a sound that is all of their own. With influences as diverse as Windhand, Bohren Und Der Club Of Gore, The Devil’s Blood, Jex Thoth, Angelo Badalamenti, Bellwitch, John Coltrane and Aluk Todolo, the band has moved from the droning occult doom of their first LP “Belfry” to a new, darker and more atmospheric approach clearly showcased in their new record “Feast for Water”, released in March!

CHILD (AUS) – Hailing from the urban wilds of Melbourne, Australia, Child combine the heavy emotion of the blues with the tone and raw power of hard rock to create a visceral musical experience that reaches right into the chest of listeners. Since the release of their runaway self-titled debut in 2014, Child have continued to develop their unique brand of heavy blues through constant writing and extensive touring. The band released their latest EP “I” a few months ago!

HUMULUS (IT) – Humulus is a Psych-Stoner power trio from Brescia/Bergamo (Italy), formed in 2009. Their first self titled album was released by Go Down Records in December 2012. The ten tracks of this first work fully reflect the stoner attitude of the band and their aggressive sound that is best expressed during their live shows. Their latest LP “Reverently Heading Into Nowhere”, more psychedelic and heavier than ever, came out in the Spring of 2017.

GIANT SLEEP (GER/CH) – Giant Sleep are five guys from Germany and Switzerland, worshipping the power of the riff. The sound of the quintet penetrates the worlds of the subconscious and incomprehensible with no regard for genres nor boundaries. Modern post- and prog-rock elements meet the classic sound of the 70s; an original mixture of lively and creative music. On their second album “Move A Mountain” Giant Sleep takes you on a journey through rock history and beyond.

Taking place October 5th & 6th 2018 at Z7 in Pratteln, Switzerland, highclass acts such as JOHN GARCIA & THE BAND OF GOLD, ACID KING or SASQUATCH have already been confirmed with many more to come. Tickets for Up In Smoke are available HERE!

SHARE & WIN: To get another chance to win a weekend pass for Up In Smoke 2018, please visit the Facebook page for more info!

www.upinsmoke.de
https://www.facebook.com/UpInSmokeIndoorFestivalInZ7/
https://www.sol-tickets.com/produkte
https://soundofliberation.com

Ancestors, “Gone”

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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.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

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The Top 20 of 2017 Year-End Poll — RESULTS!

Posted in Features on January 1st, 2018 by JJ Koczan

top-20-of-2017-year-end-poll-results

Happy New Year 2018! If you’re reading this, welcome to the future. Enjoy your flying car, free healthcare, universal income, matter replicators and life on that moon colony you moved to a couple years back — New Berlin, wasn’t it? Well, either way, I’m sure it’s lovely this season.

Way back in the Dark Ages, on Dec. 1, 2017, I put up The Obelisk’s annual Year-End Poll, looking for submissions from as many people as possible with their picks for what were the year’s best albums. The response was once again staggering. Over 400 lists came in — including my own, which I submitted yesterday — for a final tally of 419, and the amount of consensus that emerged from them was no less impressive.

We’ll get there in a second. First, a reminder about the point system. As ever, a 1-4 ranking is worth five points, 5-8 worth four, 9-12 worth three, 13-16 worth two and 17-20 worth one. So it doesn’t only matter that you included a record on your list — the raw votes are also tallied — but where it was included. That only seems fair in acknowledging how passionate people were about a given release.

You know the drill by now I’m sure, but it pays to be thorough. Below you’ll find both the weighted point tally and the raw votes results, followed by some quick honorable mentions, comment, etc. After the jump, you’ll find the complete list of everyone who submitted. If you’d like to check my math on anything, feel free. I’m by no means perfect when it comes to statistics or counting or any of that stuff involving those things that aren’t letters. Whatever they’re called.

Thanks to everyone who took part this year. Here are the lists:

Top 20 of 2017 — Weighted Results

elder reflections of a floating world adrian dexter

1. Elder, Reflections of a Floating World (888 points)
2. Monolord, Rust (397)
3. All Them Witches, Sleeping Through the War (346)
4. Pallbearer, Heartless (327)
5. Colour Haze, In Her Garden (284)
6. Mastodon, Emperor of Sand (256)
7. Bell Witch, Mirror Reaper (250)
8. The Obsessed, Sacred (248)
9. Sasquatch, Maneuvers (242)
10. Electric Wizard, Wizard Bloody Wizard (237)
11. Kadavar, Rough Times (236)
12. Samsara Blues Experiment, One with the Universe (225)
13. Ufomammut, 8 (205)
14. DVNE, Asheran (198)
15. Ruby the Hatchet, Planetary Space Child (189)
16. Woodhawk, Beyond the Sun (163)
17. Spaceslug, Time Travel Dilemma (158)
18. Causa Sui, Vibraciones Doradas (155)
19. Telekinetic Yeti, Abominable (150)
20. Motorpsycho, The Tower (149)

Honorable Mention:
Youngblood Supercult, The Great American Death Rattle (144)
Radio Moscow, New Beginnings (134)
Dopelord, Children of the Haze (132)
Chelsea Wolfe, Hiss Spun (129)
Mutoid Man, War Moans (123)

No real surprise here, but with the fact that Elder’s Reflections of a Floating World topped 880 points and got more than twice as much as the next closest record, it’s hard to begrudge 2017 some measure of predictability. For what it’s worth, that’s an even stronger showing than their Lore LP got in 2015, and they took the lead on day one and did not relinquish it for the duration. Outside of them and Monolord, who held command of the number two spot for the entire month, there was some measure of parity, but it was clear where hearts and minds were situated in 2017, and certainly difficult to argue with the picks on the whole, regardless of where a given individual ranked one album or the other. Looking at that list of 20-plus, especially with the honorable mentions, I’d sign up for that year every time. It was a good one. Now then…

Top 20 of 2017 — Raw Votes

elder reflections of a floating world adrian dexter

1. Elder, Reflections of a Floating World (207 votes)
2. Monolord, Rust (110)
3. Pallbearer, Heartless (94)
4. All Them Witches, Sleeping Through the War (88)
5. Kadavar, Rough Times (77)
6. Electric Wizard, Wizard Bloody Wizard (75)
7. Colour Haze, In Her Garden (74)
8. Mastodon, Emperor of Sand (72)
9. The Obsessed, Sacred (71)
10 Sasquatch, Maneuvers (70)
11. Ufomammut, 8 (67)
12. Bell Witch, Mirror Reaper (64)
13. Ruby the Hatchet, Planetary Space Child (60)
14. Samsara Blues Experiment, One with the Universe (59)
15. Woodhawk, Beyond the Sun (54)
16. DVNE, Asheran (53)
17. Telekinetic Yeti, Abominable (48)
18. Causa Sui, Vibraciones Doradas (47)
19. Radio Moscow, New Beginnings (45)
19. Spaceslug, Time Travel Dilemma (45)
20. Dopelord, Children of the Haze (43)
20. Mothership, High Strangeness (43)

Honorable Mention:
Youngblood Supercult, The Great American Death Rattle (40)
Chelsea Wolfe, Hiss Spun (37)
The Atomic Bitchwax, Force Field (34)
Beastmaker, Inside the Skull (34)
Motorpsycho, The Tower (33)
Mutoid Man, War Moans (32)

Even less surprising given the above. 207 people of the 419 who submitted lists included Elder somewhere on theirs. It’s pretty hard to get about 50 percent of anyone to agree on anything these days, so I consider that no minor feat. Again, Reflections of a Floating World earned its place, and it was a pretty astounding achievement for the band and the genre they’re working to remake in their own image. A couple minor shifts between the raw tallies and the weighted results as there always are, but again, the underlying point here is that 2017 was a pretty killer year all the way around and across a deep variety of styles, the quality of work being put forth by veterans and newcomers alike was nothing short of excellent.

Before I turn you over to the massive swath of everybody’s lists, I just want to say thanks again to Slevin for being so instrumental in setting up the technical end of this poll. It’s amazing year after year to be able to basically at this point flip a switch and have it all set to go and there’s no way that would happen without Slevin working so hard behind the scenes to put the structure in place that holds this project, the entire site, together. Thanks dude.

And thank you for reading and contributing your favorites of 2017! This is the last of the 2017 Year-End coverage for The Obelisk. If you missed any of it, go here:

The Top 30 Albums of 2017

The Top 20 Short Releases of 2017

The Top 20 Debut Albums of 2017

2017 Song of the Year

12 of 2017’s Best Album Covers

One more time, thank you for reading. After the jump, please find the raw lists of everyone who took the time to turn one in. Enjoy:

Read more »

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audiObelisk Transmission 064

Posted in Podcasts on December 26th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

audiobelisk transmission 064

So this is something I’ve never done before. I’m not exactly what you’d call an early adopter when it comes to new technology, but this weekend I finally signed up for Spotify and decided to give a shot at putting together a year-end playlist through that rather than doing the standard podcast. Aside from a kind of ongoing latent concern about essentially giving away downloads of music that doesn’t belong to me via the old mp3 files — no one’s ever said anything and I always figured it was okay since songs were bundled together as one file — this just seemed more useful in allowing people to explore different artists, albums, etc. If you disagree, I’m sorry.

I can’t say I won’t ever go back to the other way, or that I’ll actively enjoy having a Spotify account enough to keep it, and so on, but it’s something new to try, so I’m giving it a shot. The playlist turned out to be nine hours and 12 minutes long, and once I got going, I couldn’t really resist making it 65 tracks, what with it being the 64th podcast and all. One to grow on.

As always, I hope you enjoy. Thanks for listening:

Track details:

• Artist, Track, Album, Runtime
• Elder, Sanctuary, Reflections of a Floating World, 00:11:13
• All Them Witches, Am I Going Up?, Sleeping Through the War, 00:05:33
• Lo-Pan, Pathfinder, In Tensions, 00:06:22
• MOON RATS, Heroic Dose, Highway Lord, 00:04:27
• Bees Made Honey in the Vein Tree, Medicine, Medicine, 00:06:38
• Mindkult, Lucifer’s Dream, Lucifer’s Dream, 00:09:06
• Brume, Reckon, Rooster, 00:09:12
• Riff Fist, King Tide, King Tide, 00:11:20
• Monolord, Dear Lucifer, Rust, 00:08:41
• Hymn, Serpent, Perish, 00:07:32
• Vinnum Sabbathi, Gravity Waves, Gravity Works, 00:08:26
• Electric Wizard, Wicked Caresses, Wizard Bloody Wizard, 00:06:43
• Ruby the Hatchet, Symphony of the Night, Planetary Space Child, 00:07:08
• Telekinetic Yeti, Colossus, Abominable, 00:08:56
• Bong Wish, My Luv, Bong Wish, 00:02:31
• Radio Moscow, New Skin, New Beginnings, 00:03:02
• Cloud Catcher, Celestial Empress, Trails of Kozmic Dust, 00:05:41
• The Atomic Bitchwax, Humble Brag, Force Field, 00:02:52
• Sasquatch, Just Couldn’t Stand the Weather, Maneuvers, 00:06:27
• Kadavar, Die Baby Die, Rough Times, 00:04:18
• Cities of Mars, Children of the Red Sea, Temporal Rifts, 00:08:27
• Argus, You Are the Curse, From Fields of Fire, 00:06:23
• Comacozer, Hylonomus, Kalos Eidos Skopeo, 00:13:43
• Samsara Blues Experiment, One with the Universe, One with the Universe, 00:15:02
• Orango, Heirs, The Mules of Nana, 00:04:46
• Siena Root, Tales of Independence, A Dream of Lasting Peace, 00:03:39
• Demon Head, Older Now, Thunder on the Fields, 00:04:17
• Sun Blood Stories, Great Destroyer, It Runs Around the Room with Us, 00:06:11
• Spaceslug, Time Travel Dilemma, Time Travel Dilemma, 00:10:07
• Arc of Ascent, Hexagram, Realms of the Metaphysical, 00:07:34
• Causa Sui, Seven Hills, Vibraciones Doradas, 00:07:24
• Alunah, Fire of Thornborough Henge, Solennial, 00:05:32
• Vokonis, Calling From The Core, The Sunken Djinn, 00:06:03
• Enslaved, Sacred Horse, E, 00:08:12
• Dvne, Edenfall, Asheran, 00:07:04
• The Midnight Ghost Train, Break My Love, Cypress Ave., 00:03:33
• The Obsessed, It’s Only Money, Sacred, 00:02:35
• Mothership, Crown of Lies, High Strangeness, 00:05:41
• Geezer, Red Hook, Psychoriffadelia, 00:06:02
• Uffe Lorenzen, Flippertøs, Galmandsværk, 00:02:46
• Youngblood Supercult, Master of None, The Great American Death Rattle, 00:04:01
• Beastmaker, Nature of the Damned, Inside the Skull, 00:03:26
• Pallbearer, I Saw the End, Heartless, 00:06:21
• Paradise Lost, Blood and Chaos, Medusa, 00:03:51
• Rozamov, Wind Scorpion, This Mortal Road, 00:08:49
• Eternal Black, Sea of Graves, Bleed the Days, 00:06:33
• Demon Eye, Politic Divine, Prophecies and Lies, 00:03:40
• Snowy Dunes, Ritual of Voices, Atlantis, 00:07:17
• The Devil and the Almighty Blues, Low, II, 00:08:49
• Abronia, Glass Butte Retribution, Obsidian Visions / Shadowed Lands, 00:06:09
• John Garcia, Kylie, The Coyote Who Spoke in Tongues, 00:04:58
• Tuna de Tierra, Raise of the Lights, Tuna de Tierra, 00:07:09
• Colour Haze, Lotus, In Her Garden, 00:07:05
• IAH, Stolas, IAH, 00:08:39
• Fungus Hill, Are You Dead, Creatures, 00:08:54
• Atavismo, El Sueño, Inerte, 00:11:18
• Tuber, Noman, Out of the Blue, 00:08:14
• Spidergawd, What You Have Become, Spidergawd IV, 00:03:44
• Puta Volcano, Bird, Harmony of Spheres, 00:05:07
• Ufomammut, Core, 8, 00:05:15
• Kings Destroy, None More, None More, 00:14:03
• PH, Looking Back at Mr. Peter Hayden, Eternal Hayden, 00:16:44
• Mt. Mountain, Dust, Dust, 00:17:15
• Electric Moon, Live Forever Now (You Will), Stardust Rituals, 00:22:41
• Bell Witch, Mirror Reaper, Mirror Reaper, 01:23:15

If you want to follow me on Spotify, apparently that’s something you can do here.

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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

Electric Wizard webstore

Electric Wizard on Thee Facebooks

Spinefarm Records on Thee Facebooks

Spinefarm Records website

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