Review Summary: Electric Wizard perfect their tighter, more accessable yet still crushingly heavy sound they started on 'We Live'
2007’s Witchcult Today
is Electric Wizard’s sixth album overall, and second album with their second line-up after two of the three founding members left to form a new band, Ramesses, leaving just guitarist and vocalist Jus Oborn. With the new line-up, including Oborn’s wife Liz Buckingham on second guitar, Electric Wizard moved towards a cleaner, tighter sound. While this style was started on 2004’s slightly inconsistent We Live
, it was perfected on Witchcult Today
While this could be seen as a step back for Electric Wizard who gained popularity for their crushingly heavy monolithic riffs drenched in feedback and distortion, the change in sound works surprisingly well. The sound here is much more focused and less droning and monotonous. The doomy down-tuned riffs are still the same excellent quality of those of older Electric Wizard. The riffs are still relentlessly heavy and gripping with plenty of groove, but the cleaner sound and tighter structure helps to make them easier to listen to. The songs are still quite long, giving plenty of time to get lost in the album’s gloomy and spacey atmosphere.
While the song structures are simplified here, usually with more clearly defined verse-chorus arrangements than before, the addition of a second guitarist gives the band ability to add complexity to the music, though it usually stays quite simple. All of the music was recorded using vintage 70’s equipment, adding to the rough sound.
The final two tracks are slightly more similar to earlier Electric Wizard, with a more droning sound and longer song lengths, especially ‘Black Magic Rituals & Perversions’ with it’s doomy riff surrounded by crashing drums (which throughout the rest of the album are very low in the mix) and buried indecipherable vocals. This change helps keep the album gripping throughout, preventing it from becoming at all stale.
To fit with the new style, Oborn’s vocals are distorted less and placed further up in the mix. However, they still sound distant and hazy, buried under the crushing guitars and bass. He is still clearer than before though, making his vocal melodies easier to hear, especially on songs like Saturnine
with it’s fantastic chorus, and his lyrics more decipherable. While the lyrics aren’t particularly impressive, they aren’t really important to the album and they fit the drugged-out atmosphere fine. Topics covered there are the same as in any Electric Wizard album - homages to weed and often quite cheesy horror films, most notably ‘Satanic Rites of Drugula’, which, as the title suggests, is about both the film ‘Satanic Rites of Dracula’ and weed at the same time, with quite humorous lyrics.
While Electric Wizard may have hit their peak at 1997’s Come My Fanatics
or 2000’s Dopethrone
, the line-up change added new life to the band. Witchcult Today
retains the heaviness and groove but is much more easily accessable. The album is gripping throughout, despite it’s quite long running length, and is filled with quality riffs. Highly recommended, and a good introduction to the band.