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 Today full-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 And ever ones for outdoing themselves, the Jus Oborn-led troupe (of which I believe the picture above is outdated in terms of rhythm section) culled together those three songs as side A of a cassette EP called, of course, Legalise Drugs & Murder, that’s included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 guitarist Liz 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 Today title-cut from which it’s derived.
Instead, they close out the Legalise Drugs & Murder tape 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 & Murder may 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.