The Patient Mrs. and I were walking around Ikea tonight, basking in the mediocre consumer hell that is our 30s and looking for a shelf I can put LPs on, since apparently I have enough now to warrant one — also a lamp because with the time change it gets dark in my office before I’m done working — and I couldn’t get Electric Wizard out of my head. They seem to be an immediate go-to association for those moments when you most want to say fuck everyone and everything and drop completely out of society. Ikea on a Friday night will do that.
Then we went to the Costco.
Suburbs, man. Some harsh shit.
I’ve always hated Ikea, and I feel like the worst part is I can’t really complain — we got both a lamp and a shelf, as well as a whole load of oh-yeah-we-totally-need-this bargain bulk crap at Costco. If we get snowed in tomorrow and are stuck until June like in The Shining, I’ll have enough deodorant to get me through. That’s not really something I worry about, but unit prices exist whether you want them to or not and I’m not in a position to be throwing money around willy nilly to not stink. There are bills to pay.
So although we were listening to the much more peaceful Papermoon Sessionscollaboration between Papir and Electric Moon — which I’ll be reviewing next week along with Lumbar, or EYE, or Corrections House or whatever it is I find myself wanting to hear because god damn it that’s how I pick records these days — the Wizard were on my mind and I figured Dopethronewas a decent enough cap to the evening. So far so good.
Other than the big box surroundings in that, which was the early going, it was hardly an unpleasant night. I feel lucky when I get to spend real time with The Patient Mrs. that isn’t me working at my desk and she working at hers or the two of us too tired to have an actual conversation, and we got dinner afterwards — she called me interesting! — and I’m looking forward to a relatively low key weekend ahead of what will be a busy week to come, with shows on deck from Blaak Heat Shujaa and Devilto Pay and maybe High on Fire, at least two, maybe three nights in a row.
On that subject, toward the end of next week I’ll probably have few posts up, since Postman Dan – you may recall my travel partner out to Days of the Doomed or know him because he’s generally awesome and seems to know everyone anyway — is flying in on Thursday from Michigan. It wouldn’t really do to be like, “Hey dude, glad you’re here, but I gotta go review some shit for like three hours so I’ll talk to you later. Good to see you though.” Not that I doubt he’d be fine on his own, it’s just rude.
Plenty with which to stay busy through all that though, and I’ll probably find some room in there to talk about some records, tapes, CDs, whatever format it might be. When the Deadbolt Breaks also have a new video that I’ll be posting and there’s a lot of other stuff to come as well, so please stay tuned.
And in the meantime, as always, have a great and safe weekend. Enjoy the Electric Wizard (I know I am), and please check out the forum and radio stream.
Posted in Features on April 19th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
04.20.13 — 00.52 — Saturday morning — Hotel Mercure, Tilburg
I was early to Het Patronaat for the start of day two of Roadburn 2013. Stupid early, as the kids might say. Dread Sovereign – the new and doomly trio from Primordial vocalist Alan Averill and drummer Simon O’Laoghaire, also with Bones on guitar — were going on until 14.00, and I rolled up to the old church roughly an hour before. It was in time to catch their soundcheck, as it happens, which I watched from the door into the upstairs of the venue as a prelude to their actual set, which followed a much-needed cup of coffee. I had thought of bringing a book to read and ultimately decided against it. Can’t say it was the right choice, but there you go.
Averill handles bass in Dread Sovereign as well, and dialing his stage makeup back to some eyeliner but keeping the hood — Bones had one as well — his stage presence was a far cry from what it had been the night before, less interaction with the crowd, less rousing to fit with the music, which in turn was less rousing. There’s a 12″ they’re selling here, limited, whathaveyou, that I’ve had my eye on for two days now, and watching Dread Sovereign live did nothing to dissuade a purchase. Bones was a ripper on guitar, thrashing out like the kids do while he tossed off lively solos to counteract the songs’ marked plod. For his part, Averill‘s vocal style was roughly the same as in Primordial — after a point, you’re going to sing how you’re going to sing, no matter the context — but he had room to breathe between lines for the slower tempos.
Less adrenaline all around, then, but that was to be expected, and there were still a couple flashes of more uptempo groove to be had. “Pray to the Devil in Man” may have beat out its anti-Christian miseries, but “13 Clergy to the Fire” had some swing to it, with a chorus pattern distinctly in Averill‘s sphere that was immediately memorable. Solid beginning as it was, though, even Dread Sovereign‘s fastest stretch was little indicator of what German retro rockers Kadavar had on offer, playing songs from their two albums, 2012′s self-titled debut and the brand new Abra Kadavar (review here). I think for lack of material, as they’re a pretty recent band, Dread Sovereign ended their 45-minute set early, so there was a break in between, but as soon as Kadavar started checking their sound, it was clear things were about to take a turn in a much different direction.
One thing about the German three-piece: They’ve got the look down. Also the sound. Between two songs early into their set, someone in back shouted out, “Hair metal!” and received a couple boos. I can see the point of the critique, that Kadavar are so much leading with their aesthetic, the vintage production, the shirts, necklaces, beards, the bellbottoms and so on, and I guess if they sucked, it would be an issue, but they clearly take it seriously, and they’d more or less melted Het Patronaat by the time they were through their third song. Wolf Lindemann‘s vocals were spot on, and Tiger (drums) was responsible for a good bit of the energy they exuded from the stage. Say what you want about their haircuts, a drummer who can headbang like that to his own rhythms is something special to watch. They had a fill-in bassist, but once they got going, there was really no stopping their momentum.
The drums were set up toward the front of the stage, off the riser, so I don’t know how it looked from the back, but from where I was, people ate up “All Our Thoughts,” “Doomsday Machine” and Abra Kadavaropener “Come Back Life,” and rightfully so. In their tones, in Lindemann‘s vocals, in Tiger‘s riotous playing, Kadavar delivered an early highlight to the day and rounded out with a massive jam, bringing up DJ/filmmaker/psychedelic manipulator/etc. Shazzula Vultura – who was also showing a movie in Stage01 at 013 today — to add swirl via a Theremin run through a Moogerfooger. Shit got real wild real quick, and it was a stretch that brought to mind the later moments of Abra Kadavar. True to the record, they held it together live as well and crashed to a finish as crisply and vibrantly as they’d started, having played their full hour.
At that point, I’d been standing in the same spot at the front of the stage for about two full hours, but I knew I didn’t want to move until I got to watch at least part of Witch Mountain, who were playing Europe for the first time and on the road for four weeks with Cough, who played later tonight. It was another abrupt change in vibe, but neither did Witch Mountain disappoint. The abundance of talent in that band is nigh on ridiculous, and between drummer Nate Carson‘s work with Nanotear Booking (he’s giving a master class tomorrow on touring the US, which he knows both ends of, having done it a few times himself at this point as well as sending others on their way), guitarist Rob Wrong‘s history of reviewing albums for StonerRock.com and penchant for counteracting lumbering riffs with shredding solos, vocalist Uta Plotkin‘s intense range as she varies from growls to soaring, clean high notes (while actually hitting them; I don’t know if she’s a trained singer, but she certainly sounds like one) and bassist Neal Munson‘s tonal heft and nod-out rhythms, it’s hard not to root for them both here and in general.
“The Ballad of Lanky Rae” and “Beekeeper” from last year’s Cauldron of the Wild(review here) and the extended build of “Aurelia” were welcome, and as they seemed really glad to be playing, there resulted the kind of wholesome atmosphere that emerges when doom gathers to celebrate itself. I dug it, which was doubly fortunate because watching Kadavar and Witch Mountain meant missing out on Dream Death. There was some strategy involved in this, as staying at Het Patronaat instead of going over to the 013 Main Stage for Dream Death freed up scheduling conflicts to come and I’ll be able to catch Dream Death in June at Days of the Doomed III in Wisconsin — most assuredly about as “in their element” as they’re going to get. So I felt bad for missing out on Dream Death, but will make up for it later. Every Roadburn brings hard choices, and every attendee has to carve out his or her own path through the crowded lineup. You know, like life.
Already at Het Patronaat the temperatures were reaching unseasonable highs. Witch Mountain had started early on account of this, and it was largely the thermostat that had me split partway through their set — still fun to start today with two full sets, as opposed to yesterday with all the running around early on — to head across the alleyway to the 013 and check out the “The Electric Acid Orgy” curated lineup by Electric Wizard guitarist/vocalist Jus Oborn. The Wizard‘s own set was still a ways off, but as I walked in, the Green Room was just starting to fill up for upstart doomers Witchsorrow, who soon came on with their peculiarly British kind of traditional crushing riffage. At some point I’m going to have to sit down and really hammer out the differences between British trad doom and American trad doom and see what I can come up with, but watching Witchsorrow after Witch Mountain underscored how wide the margin between two doom acts can be, however similarly witchy their names might wind up.
They too seemed glad to have been asked to play — who wouldn’t be? — and the Green Room did indeed pack out for them, guitarist/vocalist Nick Ruskell craning his neck upwards to a high microphone as though to invoke Lemmy’s occult powers and further drive the band’s Cathedral-inspired take into wretched oblivion. And so on. Ruskell, bassist Emily Witch and drummer David Wilbrahammer also had a limited-edition cassette for sale over in the merch area to mark the occasion of playing Roadburn 2013, but I didn’t see it over there when I went today to pick up the new Toner Low CD from the Exile on Mainstream table (one of these years, I’ll introduce myself to Andreas from the label, but frankly, people with taste in music that good intimidate me) and must have missed my shot at one. Too bad, but I’m glad I got to catch them for a bit before I headed into the Main Stage area for the start of Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats.
It was plain even before they played one note that Uncle Acid were a major draw for the day, and in the five Roadburns that I’ve been fortunate enough to attend, I can think of very few times that room has been that crowded. Sleep last year, Saint Vitus in ’09, and oh yeah, Electric Wizard later in the evening. Usually there’s somewhere to go in the Main Stage area, whether it’s up front in a corner on the floor, or up in back on one of the raised steps, or even up on the balcony, but not for Uncle Acid. There was just no corner that didn’t have someone already there. I knew that a lot of people were looking forward to seeing them play, and so was I, but I suppose I hadn’t realized how that would translate to the actual numbers. They had their work cut out for them in living up to expectation.
But that, they didn’t fail. Opening with “I’ll Cut You Down” from their landmark 2011 sophomore outing, Blood Lust, they had the place immediately in their grip, the song’s psychotic verse swing and chorus hook delivered by both of the UK four-piece’s guitarists, Uncle Acid himself front and center, with backing in the chorus and here and there throughout from the bassist. People watched from out the side door as “I’ll Cut You Down” led to “Mt. Abraxas” from their third album, Mind Control(review here), the stomp in the finish winning favor readily even though the record is still pretty recent, as is, I’m told, the drummer. “Valley of the Dolls” provided a slowdown and “Death’s Door” was a highlight, the band playing mostly in the dark but for a few flashes here and there. I guess as regards the light show, I expected Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats to come bathed in psychedelic purples, oranges and pinks the whole time — they were for flashes in the beginning — but they did just as well in hair-down-lights-down blue and there was little I could’ve reasonably asked for that they didn’t deliver. My one per year, I stood on the side of the stage to watch for a few minutes. Not too long, but long enough.
From there, I popped out to grab a quick bite to eat — roasted chicken, potatoes au gratin and a couple piece of fried fish; I’ve always been a cheap date — and figured I’d get a spot for Moss in the Green Room after. No such luck. By the time I got there, not only was the room itself full, but the space in the hallway outside where one would be able to see the band through the open doorway was also full. My loss, this Moss. They also had some tapes for sale. I should’ve bought everything. Didn’t. Hazards of doing a Roadburn sober, it seems. Back to Het Patronaat, then, my mind still reeling from the Uncle Acid set, to catch the start of French post-black metallers Les Discrets. Roadburn 2013 artist-in-residence, Neige of Alcest, played bass alongside guitarist, vocalist, visual artist and principle songwriter Fursy Teyssier and in comparison to Les Discrets‘ albums, of which I’ll make no bones about saying I’m a fan, the live incarnation was much heavier. This could just as easily be a byproduct of the house P.A., or of Neige‘s bass along with Teyssier and the second guitar, but it added to the dynamism of the band’s already dynamic material.
Also, but for Witch Mountain‘s Plotkin, Les Discrets also had the best vocals I’ve heard so far into the fest, Teyssier harmonizing with his fellow six-stringer and resting just under the lush wash of melody in the guitar and bass. It was gorgeous. Painfully so. I thought the mix on last year’s Ariettes Oubliées(review here) was stronger than that of their 2010 debut, Septembre et Ses Dernières Pensées (semi-review here), but even the heaviest moments on record didn’t really prepare me for seeing them live, and while they may share a lot in terms of style with Alcest, it was never quite so apparent as it was watching them how different the two acts actually are and just how much of himself Teyssier puts into his work. I was really, really glad I got to see them, which as usual was becoming kind of a theme for the fest as a whole.
By the time they were really dug in, I could feel the day starting to wear on me, so I came back to the hotel for a few minutes to regroup, take my shoes off, drink a bottle of water, etc., so that when I got back to the 013 for Electric Wizard, I was good and ready. There was some hubbub about the band saying they didn’t want any photographers or something, an email sent to some people apparently, but there was still a decent population in the photo pit by the time the headliners started. I don’t know and I suppose it doesn’t matter anyway at this point, though I was worried Jus Oborn would stop the set and tell everyone to get the fuck out for breaking the rules. I tried to ask him while he was setting up his gear, but if he heard me, there was no indication.
Once more, Oborn had curated the day, so it was only fitting that Electric Wizard should headline — it would be fitting anyway, honestly — and the chance to see them for the first time was a considerable percentage slice for why I came. They toured the States over a decade ago (speaking of hubbubs, I seem to recall something about the Oborn‘s pants? I don’t know), but I didn’t see them then, so they were a must and a major cross-off for my must-see-before-I-die-in-a-fiery-plane-crash list. Yes, I have one, and it’s shorter by one band following Electric Wizard‘s set, which they launched with “Come My Fanatics,” Oborn stepping right into the cult leader role that he more or less legitimately is now, considering how many bands have followed in his drugged-out horrordelic footsteps. Joined by guitarist Liz Buckingham, returned drummer Mark Greening, who came back to the band following the dissolution of Ramesses, and bassist Glenn Charman, Oborn led the way through “Witchcult Today,” “Black Mass,” “Drugula,” “Legalise Drugs and Murder” as the packed crowd willingly went into something like a simultaneous nod trance, chanting lyrics back as screams entered the fray with extended verses and endings for the songs. I stood by the far-left side of the stage and watched riff after pot-addled riff met corresponding clouds of smoke in the crammed-in audience. I didn’t, but if you were ever gonna, this would’ve been the time.
I managed to get back to the other side of the stage by something I’ll just call “Roadburn magic” and ran by the Green Room to watch a few minutes of Finnish weirdo acid rockers Seremonia. Perhaps because everyone was either in the Main Stage space or over at Het Patronaat anticipating the arrival of Goat, the Green Room wasn’t overly crowded and I was able to walk right in. Kind of a bummer spot for Seremonia to have, competing with stoner legends and fascinating newcomers at once, but at least they were here. They just have one record out and from what I saw, I wouldn’t be the slightest bit surprised if they made another appearance down the line sometime. Their self-titled debut (track stream here) is better than people seem to have caught on to yet, perhaps intimidated by the many syllables of the Finnish lyrics. Couldn’t say for sure.
And though I wanted to stay and bask in the sort of folksy traditionalism of Seremonia, Goat beckoned. The Swedish outfit will apparently release a new 7″ on Sub Pop in the US in June, so somebody’s taken note following the critical tornado of fuckyessery that surrounded their 2012 World Musicdebut. Fine. I’m still not sure I’m really down with Goat. Maybe this is an all-too-American perspective, but you’ve got a bunch of people in masks running around playing psychedelic Afrobeat flailing arms and shouting whooping chants, I guess my big question as regards the band is what part of it isn’t minstrelsy. Obviously Sweden doesn’t have the history of troubled race relations that the US does, and I’ll be straight, I liked the record for what it was musically, it’s the theory behind it that has so far left me scratching my head.
Nonetheless, I ended the day same as I started it — standing in the doorway of Het Patronaat — only this time it was because the room was so full that there was nowhere else for me to go. The line to get in to see Goat stretched out the door and down the alley, and security was letting people in as others came out, so clearly the band was a major lure. Again, they’re good at what they do — I’m not saying they’re not — it’s all the other stuff besides the music I’m talking about. That said, judging by the smiles on the faces of those around me and the expectant/impatient looks of those waiting on line outside (far more wanting to go in than coming out), they probably made quite a few peoples’ day.
Late-night Tilburg echoes with the throb of the dance club across from the Mercure and drunken aus uur blijfts on the street below my open window. It’s just past four in the morning as I finish this post and if last night is anything to go by, it’ll be another two hours sorting photos [actually it was only an hour and a half!]. So be it. Roadburn 2013 day three kicks off tomorrow at 14.30 and I’ll be there.
Thanks (again) for reading. More pics after the jump.
I’m sure that in your lifetime you’ve heard a line so catchy that you wanted to make a whole song out of it. Well, Electric Wizard have too. The only difference is they actually wrote the song with the catchy line in the first place as well. So what you get with “Legalise Drugs & Murder” is some of the most stripped down Electric Wizard to date, the seminal UK doomers referencing themselves lyrically — the title being taken from a verse in “The Chosen Few” from 2007′s landmark Witchcult Todayfull-length — even as they continue to reference a slew of horror flicks, Sabbath, and, of course, the devil.
The Dorset mainstays released “Legalise Drugs & Murder” as a 7″ single earlier this year through Rise Above, coupled with the track “Murder & Madness.” Decibel magazine included a new 2012 demo of the track “Satyr IX,” which originally appeared on 2010′s Black Masses. And ever ones for outdoing themselves, the Jus Oborn-led troupe (of which I believe the picture above is outdated in terms of rhythm section) culled together those three songs as side A of a cassette EP called, of course, Legalise Drugs & Murder, that’s included exclusively with the Oct. 2012 issue of Terrorizer, the cover story of which — well look at that — also just happens to be on Electric Wizard.
So it’s an exclusive, limited Electric Wizard tape, that they’ve released to go with this one issue of Terrorizer and then it’s gone, off into catalog completist obscurity. Should go without saying I was dying to get my hands on one. I put word out on Thee Facebooks that if any kind soul in the UK could help me out, I’d gladly pay for the mag, shipping, etc., and it wasn’t five minutes before a hero emerged. Huge thanks go out to Phil Steventon of Stafford for taking it upon himself to send me a copy of the mag and the tape. It’s been kicking ass all over the tape players in my car and office since.
The song itself emphasizes the best parts of Wizard‘s do-a-lot-with-a-little ethic, cycling its title line as a chorus a chant while peppering in a few verses for good measure and rounding out with hypnotic repetition of the line “children of the grave.” I had thought maybe they’d include a “Satan’s slaves” to complement, since that’s how it worked in “The Chosen Few,” but they don’t even go that far, just letting the sleepy groove and malevolent fuzz carry the song out. “Satyr IX” is a grittier version of the original and “Murder & Madness” is five and a half minutes of horror atmospherics, nodding low end and whispering creepiness — a decent setup for the perversions that ensue on side B.
One might recognize “Patterns of Evil” from Black Masses, but not by much. The remix Electric Wizard – Oborn is credited as producer/mixer, though guitaristLiz Buckingham shares songwriting credit — have given the song has made it altogether rougher-sounding than it was on the album, and if they weren’t pleased with the original version, I can only wonder what that might mean for the sound of their next record, if they’re thinking that far yet. “Lucifer (We’ve Gone too Far)” is darkly psychedelic as was “Murder & Madness,” though more manic, with repetitive incantations of either one portion of its title or the other amid samples and a bizarre rush, and though the closer “Our Witchcult Grows…” is no less referential than the track “Legalise Drugs & Murder,” the song itself actually has little in common with the Witchcult Todaytitle-cut from which it’s derived.
Instead, they close out the Legalise Drugs & Murdertape with strange, effects-laden chanting. It might be filler, but if so, it’s effective on the level of mood, keeping the cult horror vibe at the fore to end of an already strange listen. If this tape is any indication of where Electric Wizard are headed with their next full-length, then things could be taking a turn for the weird any minute now. Of course there’s no sure guarantee that it is or isn’t a sign of their direction overall, but it’s fun to speculate, and Legalise Drugs & Murdermay just end up as a blip on the band’s discography, but it’s a cool listen and something I was glad to get while the getting was good.
It had been a while since I’d been to the Second Saturday Record Show in flood-prone Wayne, NJ. In fact, relatively speaking, my load of CD acquisitions has been light of late, a combination of pricing myself out of the market, saving cash to move, being annoyed at digital promos, etc. But Saturday was the record show and I happened to be in the state, so I wasn’t going to miss it.
The Wayne Firehouse, which is where the show has been held since before time began, was as packed as I’ve ever seen it, and with more vinyl. Believe the hype, I guess. People were pushing through the aisles at crowded tables, and even though I was working under my self-imposed limit to CDs and tapes, I wavered when I happened upon an original LP of the first Goatsnake record. I didn’t buy it, because it was $75, but I came close.
Treasures persisted though. Here’s a quick rundown.
Among the CDs, the self-titled Electric Wizard was the highlight, no doubt about. Original jewel case issue on Rise Above. I’d only had the reissue before that paired it with Come My Fanaticsand the digipak that came out even later, so to get the first version was a treat. Of course the album rules, but I already knew that going into it.
Tapes were three for two bucks at one seller’s table, so I grabbed the Dio, Sacred Heart, and Black Sabbath, Mob Rules and Born Againtapes from him, as well as the three-tape set of Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks‘ The 2,000 Year Old Man, which is a classic. The Ozzy tape came from his as well, which threw off the three-for-two thing, but it was worth the extra 50 cents anyway. I think actually I only wound up paying $2.50 anyhow. Fucking awesome.
The Hendrix tape in the top right corner I bought off a different dude for a buck. It’s a dub of “Top Gear”/BBC stuff (click here to pop up the full tracklist), and yeah, it’s probably all been officially released at this point, but it fucking rules anyway, front to back. 1967. Gorgeous.
The 1996 debut by Canada’s Sheavy was in the same bin as the Electric Wizard (and some Death SS, which I picked up as well), but might have been an even bigger surprise, if only because it was so random. I’ve never been really hooked by the band — though they do take Sabbath worship to a different level entirely and there’s something inherently admirable in that — but the record’s cool and it’s got a handmade-looking foldout included detailing the bonus tracks and even a little pyramid-shaped piece of paper that seems to be a kind of mail-order catalog:
And here’s the foldout, when folded out:
Pretty cool that that stuff would be with the album after all these years, and in impeccable shape at that. The CD was obviously well loved, kept out of sunlight, and so on. Hard not to appreciate stumbling on something like that, no matter how attached to Sheavy‘s work I may or may not be.
One of my main reasons for going in the first place, however, was the hope of picking up a turntable on the cheap. I’ve invested about as much time and effort into trying to repair the one at my office as I care to, and it’s time to move on. They didn’t have any at the record show, which was a bummer, but en route to other errands, The Patient Mrs. found a $40 Best Buy gift card that’s apparently been in my wallet since 2009. Could only be providence, right?
We shot over to the local big-box — a desert of outdated technologies (which actually gave it a certain charm in my eyes) — and grabbed the floor model of one of those “put your LPs on your iPod” turntables for what turned out to be $24 after the gift card was applied. Brought it to the office this morning, and of course it didn’t work. Now I’m 0-2 and I’ve got two busted record players one on top of the other on top of my office shelf unit, which I think makes me some kind of warped reality redneck.
Some you win, some you lose. I’ll try to return it and see if I can give it another go, and I’ve got plenty to keep me busy in the meantime. If nothing else, the growling and howling in “Hound Dog” on that Hendrix tape has the little dog Dio eyeballing the speaker curiously, and that’s bound to be hours of entertainment. Rock and roll.
A couple weeks ago, I asked the question above: “What are the 10 greatest stoner rock records?” It was kind of just something I was throwing out there to see what came back. Nothing scientific, pretty vague on what “stoner rock” actually meant as a genre designation. Basically just trying to get a spur-of-the-moment response, like an inkblot test for riffs. First thing that comes to mind.
The response was awesome, so before anything else, thank you to everyone who contributed a list to the original post. I was taken aback by the number of replies that came in — a total 73 comments — and the resultant breadth of records named reads like a wishlist of the damned. Some people were pretty orthodox in their definition of the genre, and some more open in the bands they included, but working from everyone’s lists, I tallied up the votes, and while I don’t necessarily agree with all the choices personally (I added my own list as a comment to the initial post, so I won’t bother reprinting it), it was a blast to see what emerged on top. The people have spoken.
I tried to be as fair as I could in the tallying. There were some comments left that were individual songs and not albums, and those I didn’t count, but everything else went in, even if it was only mentioned once, and when someone said, for example, “Melvins – all,” I actually added a tally to everything by the Melvins that everyone else had said. Again, it’s not really a scientific thing polling demographic data, but it was a lot of fun.
Okay, here’s the list:
The Top 10 Greatest Stoner Rock Records Poll Results:
1. Kyuss, Welcome to Sky Valley (41 votes)
2. Sleep, Sleep’s Holy Mountain (27 votes)
3. Black Sabbath, Master of Reality (19 votes)
4. Kyuss,Blues for the Red Sun (18 votes)
5. Monster Magnet,Spine of God (15 votes)
5. Sleep,Dopesmoker(15 votes)
7. Electric Wizard, Dopethrone(14 votes)
7. Fu Manchu, In Search Of… (14 votes)
9. Queens of the Stone Age, Queens of the Stone Age (12 votes)
10. Fu Manchu, The Action is Go (10 votes)
As you can see, some real classics in there, and Welcome to Sky Valleywas far and away the winner, picked by 41 out of the 73 people (myself included), with Sleep and Black Sabbath behind. There were two ties at numbers five and seven, but beyond that, it’s a pretty clear picture of where people are at with their favorites.
What about everything else? Well, it was all counted. I broke all the entries down by number of votes and listed them by artist with albums in chronological order.
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 Demon7″, 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.
Posted in Features on January 26th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster
It’s hard to discuss Electric Wizard, the spearheads of an occultic movement within modern doom, and not get lost in either hyperbolic praise, devil references or ’70s horror imagery. Indeed, if you look at the bulk of what’s been said about the Dorset group’s seventh studio album, Black Masses (by myself as well), you’ll find it can be classified in one or all of those categories. Perhaps the best thing I can say about that is that neither the imagery nor the hyperbole are unearned on the band’s part.
Because Electric Wizard are, in fact, one of the most important groups in doom today. Their earlier works like 1997′s Come My Fanatics and 2000′s landmark Dopethrone have an influence that pulsates throughout the genre, and even their most recent outings, Black Masses and its 2007 predecessor, Witchcult Today, have been responsible for setting much of the course thematically for a growing crop of bands. As founder, guitarist and vocalist, Jus Oborn has become the very sort of cult figurehead so many of Electric Wizard‘s songs describe.
Joined in the current incarnation of Electric Wizard by American expat guitarist Liz Buckingham (ex-13, ex-Sourvein), tattoo-covered bassist Tas Danazoglou and hi-hat shunning drummer Shaun Rutter, Oborn stripped down the ultra-fuzzed style of Witchcult Today for the latest album, putting a special focus on the interplay of his and Buckingham‘s guitars and the strength of the songwriting. Since both records were put to tape at Toe Rag Studios in London by Liam Watson, it’s that much clearer that the efforts of Oborn and the band have paid off.
The simplistic brilliance of the opening title-track, the revelatory psychedelic horror of “Turn Off Your Mind,” the misanthropic “Scorpio Curse” and the sexually-charged “Venus in Furs” all seethe with an attitude and atmosphere undeniably Electric Wizard‘s own. And of those who would pretend to their Satanic majesty (see first sentence above), it’s becoming increasingly clear that none of them can capture terrors quite as vivid. There’s only one Electric Wizard, and they didn’t happen overnight. Their demented anthems are unparalleled.
In the interview below, Jus Oborn — a week under the weather with the flu at the time of our conversation — discusses the songwriting process behind Black Masses and some of his more surprising points of influence, as well as the prospect of much-demanded touring in the US, the challenges in crafting memorable choruses, and much more.
This morning I interviewed Jus Oborn from Electric Wizard about the band’s triumphant dark masterpiece, Black Masses. Keep an eye out for that in the coming weeks, but until then, here’s a video made by Raymond Salvatore Harmon using the film El Topo for the track “Scorpio Curse” from said album, which finally gets its official US release next Tuesday. Appropriate as anything could ever be for this song:
Posted in Features on December 29th, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster
Look, I did the best I could, but there was no way I was going to hear everything that came out in 2010. I thought, before I reveal The Obelisk‘s #1 album of 2010, it would be prudent to mention some of the records that might have affected the list one way or the other had I heard them in time. Kind of a procedural thing on my part, but here’s an alphabetical list of five:
Agalloch, Marrow of the Spirit
Electric Wizard, Black Masses
Grand Magus, Hammer of the North
Now, you might recall the Electric Wizard was actually number 20, the first post I did that started the countdown. Well, as I said then, I included in the last spot just because I knew it should be on the list but didn’t know where, and with the ensuing month I’ve had to spend with the album, I can tell you it would be higher than it currently is. So maybe it didn’t get counted the way it would have if I’d heard it more. Hence it’s listed here.
I actually own copies of Suma and Agalloch. The former I bought and the latter is a promo waiting to be reviewed, but I still haven’t had the chance to listen to either, and it’s been little more than the threat of import prices and/or the Euro-to-dollar exchange rate and the drive to buy other things instead that’s kept me from picking up either the Grand Magus or the Sahg records.
But I know I’ve enjoyed the past work of both bands, as well as Suma and Agalloch — both of whose new albums are amazing, from what I’m told, and both of which I’m looking forward to hearing — and I thought it worthwhile to consider the possibility that they might have played into the top 20 if I’d had the chance to hear them. Maybe I’ll feel fancy one of these days and drop some cash for Sahg and Grand Magus too, but definitely not before 2011 kicks off, so for now, here they are. Mentioned honorably.
Posted in Reviews on December 7th, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster
The seventh album from Dorset cult kings (and queen), Electric Wizard’s Black Masses (Rise Above) cements the band as one of the most important and accomplished acts in doom. The burgeoning genre of occult doom – perpetrated by acts like Hour of 13, Cough and to a lesser extent The Wounded Kings – owes as much of its origin to Electric Wizard as it does to Christopher Lee in The Satanic Rites of Dracula, and on Black Masses, guitarist/vocalist Justin Oborn (usually referred to as “Jus”) and company show why they deserve to be thought of as forebears of the style. Where past Electric Wizard efforts have scattered in different directions, trying to find themselves musically as much as in the lineup – take 2000’s classic Dopethrone and the 2002 follow-up, Let Us Prey, for example – Black Masses builds on and refines the ideas brought forth on 2007’s stellar Witchcult Today, offering a different take on some of the same notions musically and lyrically, while also clearly showing growth, development, and an almost scary self-assurance.
I’ve seen remarks around about the production on Black Masses, and indeed I find it’s worthy of discussion. Produced, like Witchcult Today, at ToeRag Studios by Oborn and Liam Watson, this 59-minute collection seems initially much less upfront with its fuzz than was the predecessor. Oborn and fellow-guitarist Liz Buckingham’s guitars come off as buried in service of Tas Danazoglou’s overwhelming bass. But I don’t actually think they are. Rather, it seems to me that Oborn and Buckingham are just tuned so low, and so much of the lower frequencies have been brought out in the recording, that the guitars and the bass sound blended together at points. On “Scorpio Curse,” where the riff bounces into higher-register territory (all things relative), they come through just fine. Because of this, I wonder if Electric Wizard aren’t pushing the boundaries of their media. I’d almost like to hear Black Masses on some uncompressed, super hi-resolution digital format, and see if Oborn and Buckingham weren’t clearer. I haven’t experienced the 2LP version of Black Masses, only the CD as is my wont, but I understand where the comments are coming from. I’ve heard that Shaun Rutter’s drums are too far forward, but I don’t think that’s the case either. I think they just cut through the ultra-low-end of the guitars and Danazoglou’s bass.
For what it’s worth, I like the sound of Black Masses. The expectation in doom is that the guitars are going to be out front and that everything else, vocals included, will be in service to the riff. Electric Wizard are a riff-centric band, no question, and one of Oborn’s great gifts is in their crafting, but Black Masses delivers its eight component tracks in experiential fashion. Once I’m sucked into the world of the album, I’m neither thinking of the production nor wanting more of any single instrument, guitar, bass or drums. Instead, I’m marveling at the balance Electric Wizard strike between their cultish atmospherics, their driving rhythms and their superb songwriting. The first half of a killer opening duo, “Black Mass” contains just one of Black Masses’ several distinguished choruses, and puts you right where Oborn, Buckingham, Danazoglou and Rutter want you to be. The sound is huge but not crushing in the modern sense of doom. The guitars don’t crunch; they wash. It’s a lyrical chant you want to join while listening, and Rutter’s propelling ride cymbal only seems to drive the point home. As the song slows to its 30-seconds-of-feedback finish and a sampled female horror scream leads into “Venus in Furs,” you’re more likely than not to already be won over by Black Masses. If it hasn’t happened yet, it probably won’t.
“Venus in Furs” might be the best performance Oborn has ever given on vocals, and a prime example of Electric Wizard’s songwriting acumen some 17 years into their tenure. As memorable as anything on Witchcult Today, it feels more stripped down lyrically – not necessarily simpler in idea, but decidedly less wordy – and only proves catchier for it. Oborn delivers the title line with perverted sexual longing, proclaiming, “I am the zodiac/I am the stars/You are the sorceress/Venus in furs” and holding out the last word as his voice fades into a riffy abyss. The vocals on Black Masses are presented in a range of effects, and the ghostly wisping in and out of “Venus in Furs” works especially well. Again, guitar noise ends the song, leading into a sampled bell and the mellotron-infused “The Nightchild.” More proclamations from Oborn – “I am the nightchild/Shadows gather round me” – during an anthemic chorus offset by riff churn and bass overload from Danazoglou and I don’t even care anymore, I just want to quit my job and go wherever Electric Wizard are going to be playing this song next. Between this cut, “Venus in Furs” and the later “Turn Off Your Mind,” Electric Wizard effectively repattern what’s thought of as their typical style. “The Nightchild” doesn’t do anything outlandish or really different in terms of structure – it’s got eight minutes of its verses, chorus, solo, bridge, ending chant – but it’s also impeccably performed with not a moment out of place. It’s not often you hear dirty doom this cleanly executed.
Posted in Features on December 1st, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster
When I sat down last night to make my Top 20 of 2010 list, I’d only heard Electric Wizard‘s seventh full-length, Black Masses, one time. And no, the copy I ordered more than a month ago from Rise Above Records still hasn’t shown up; it was the second one I ordered from All That is Heavy that came. Having only given it a once-over, I knew it deserved to be on this list, but in all fairness to every other album I listened to and/or reviewed in the last 12 months, I just couldn’t put it any higher than this. Call it a timing issue.
I’m going to post a full review sometime in the next week or so, but in the several subsequent listens I’ve given Black Masses since the first, it appears to be an evolution of the occultic ideas presented on 2007′s Witchcult Today: plenty of rituals being performed, plenty of ’70s boobage throughout, demons being called upon, and so forth. I’m looking forward to digging into it further, but so far, Jus Oborn‘s vocals on “Venus in Furs,” the bounding riff that leads “Patterns of Evil” and the anthemic chorus of “The Nightchild” all make Black Masses a worthy inclusion on this list.
And yeah, I’m sure that when I think back on 2010, Black Masses will be more prevalent than 20th place in my mind, but without knowing the record better than I do at this point, I’d be insulting the 19 other releases to come by buying into the hype and rating this higher just because it’s Electric Wizard and I’m excited about it. Incidentally, they’ve set a Jan. 18, 2011 release date for the official American issue of the album, so maybe Black Masses‘ll show up on next year’s list as well. In any case, expect much pronouncement of genius to come.
I still haven’t heard the new Electric Wizard album, Black Masses. By now I think I’m the only one. I bought a copy off the Rise Above website the weekend before it was to be released (Oct. 30 or so), and although I told myself that if it wasn’t here by this Tuesday, I was going to buy a copy off the All That is Heavy webstore because I couldn’t wait any longer — because spending more money on their product would certainly teach the label a lesson about their slow shipping — I haven’t done that either. I refuse to download the record. What am I, 19 years old? Fuck that.
Moreover, I refuse to listen to it digitally. Even the clip above for “Black Mass,” I didn’t hear it all the way through. I played about two seconds’ worth so I could gauge the audio quality (apologies if it’s unacceptable) and then hit stop and embedded the file. I’d rather wait than listen to shitty quality. Of course, I’d rather not wait, but if it’s one or the other… well, here I am.
If anyone needs me, I’ll be alternating between homework and patting myself on the back for actually posting all three of the promised interviews this week. Stick around next week because I’ll have a chat with Crowbar‘s Kirk Windstein to go up and all kinds of giving-thanks goodness.
Until then, I hope you have a great and safe weekend. I’m gonna go find some dinner.
Posted in Whathaveyou on October 25th, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster
The title track and the doomier “Scorpio Rising” are streaming now on Electric Wizard‘s very purple MySpace page. If possible, the songs sound even dirtier than Witchcult Today, though I don’t know what’s up with all that thrash on the title track. That song has at least 50 beats per minute! And you call yourselves doom! Pfft.
Just kidding. It pretty much rules. The songs will make your day better and clear any undesirables from your vicinity. Doom on.
Truly, The Obelisk must be the most delicious website in the world. I can think of no other reason why the internet would eat it with such regularity. Oh wait, Yahoo fucking sucks as a hosting company. It could be that too. Either way.
The above Electric Wizard video — posted in anticipation of their new album, Black Masses, due Nov. 1 on Rise Above — was forwarded to me by Mike “ZodiacLung” Hanson. Congratulations to him both on finding such a killer clip and for noticing Shaun Rutter includes no hi-hat with his drum kit. Oh yeah, and the impending birth of his child. Congratulations for that too. Ha!
The Patient Mrs. and I are spending the weekend doing homework and watching baseball in Connecticut. I was thinking of heading north tonight to catch the Suma/Unearthly Trance show in Northampton, but I just don’t have it in me. Chalk it up to being old, tired and busy, but with two (maybe three) shows this week coming, class and work, I need to stock up on energy while I can. Apologies to Black Pyramid, who also rule and are playing, but an extra three hours on the road tonight just isn’t plausible.
I promised a new podcast this weekend, and if all goes well, tomorrow you shall have it. Hope you like long songs.