Review Summary: Heavy enough to crack your skull and riff your brain into little pieces.
A single feedback-drenched chord bursts through the speakers, crushing the listener and rotting holes in their brain with all its might. The chord is sustained, lingering, but never losing a bit of its awe-inspiring power. A four-count on the hi-hat soon follows as one genuinely fears what will happen next. This is "Return Trip", the opener to Come My Fanatics, and in my honest opinion the heaviest song ever written. The song conjures up images of a lumbering monster preparing to charge at its prey, and the final riff as the song closes makes one think of what would happen after the prey is caught. Come My Fanatics is both an album you can have morbid realizations to, and a record you can just kick back and let destroy you with its awesome might and thick, distorted riffing. Electric Wizard creates a double-edged sword of an album like this better than anyone. The album fits into the subcategory of "Stoner doom", so while the band may be short-circuiting your hi-fi system and writing about nuclear war in graphic detail, there's a type of carefree innocence to what they're saying. Come My Fanatics is also insanely atmospheric, with the whole album feeling like a trip gone insanely wrong, especially by the time you reach the album's midpoint.
This album is different from EW's other essential record, Dopethrone in that Jus Oborn's are completely unfiltered. I like it better this way, as it is easier to make out his lyrics here, and this is probably the best album he ever wrote lyrically. The aforementioned "Return Trip" barely contains vocals (2 stanzas in 10 minutes) but these 2 stanzas immediately give off the vibes that the listener requires to understand what this album is all about. Jus gives the impression that he is under the influence of some sort of nightmare drug during his vocal performances, which makes the way he cries out "I hope this f**king world f**king burns away" all the more terrifying. The lyrics contain an encroaching sense of hopelessness, exemplified more by the some of the song titles like "Son Of Nothing". Oborn's vocals are either primal and aggressive, or on the flip side a hypnotic drone that acts as another layer of music. The best example of this style would be on "Doom-Mantia" as Oborn lazily barks out "doom-mantia" over the final 3 minutes of the song as the music reaches a truly tectonic level of power. Oborn's vocals are a defining characteristic of Electric Wizard, but the most important thing he contributes is his guitar playing. If you keep in mind that Oborn is the only guitarist in the band then the music will sound much heavier than it already did. Oborn forcibly drowns his guitar in thick layers of fuzz and sludge, and has probably discovered a way to turn his amplifiers up to 14. He manages to make minimalist guitar riffs sound like they will take fragments out of your skull, which deserves heaps of praise in itself. He also shows an incredible sense of dynamics, specifically in the instrumental "Solarian 13" which contains some colossal crescendos and quiet lulls between the main sections of the song.
Without a doubt, the award for best riff on the album goes to the Sabbath-worshipping "Wizard In Black". Opening with a voice sample that would get me banned if i quoted it here, the song quickly spirals into an Iommi-like riff from the Master Of Reality era, only bathed in 10 times more distortion and 10 times more unsettling. Cymbals ring out unrelentingly in the background as the thick bass and guitar become enough to bring one to their knees. About 2 minutes, the riffs somehow become even more downtuned as Jus's heavily reverbed vocals become the focus of the first bridge. The song is fairly linear, but it is one of Electric Wizard's most triumphant moments and a gem in doom metal's canon.
The album's rhythm section is also spot-on and never falls into the nearly unavoidable death trap of overplaying. Another way to realize that this is really is "the heaviest band in the universe" is understanding that they are trio and they make this sound with only three people. Bassist Tim Bagshaw needs a good pair of headphones to be respected, but he is probably one of my favorite bass players of all time. His opening lick on "Return Trip" and monstrous riffing during the final section of "Son Of Nothing" can sometimes be even heavier and more unforgiving than the guitar riffs. His bass tracks ooze out of the speakers, slow and thick as molasses, truly engulfing the listener in their all-encompassing power. Drummer Mark Greening is nothing special to the average listener, but upon growing used to the EW sound (on this album specifically) you will not be able to picture the band with any other drummer. One of the best timekeepers I've had the pleasure of hearing, Greening can get extremely loud without speeding up one bit and tunes his drums to near-perfection. He leads the band into different peaks and valley with gusto, such as during the final section of "Son Of Nothing" where the song actually becomes upbeat for about a minute and a half. His dynamics are also fantastic, like on "Solarian 13" or some of the quiet work he does in the background of "Ivixor B/Phase Inducer". My one gripe with the drums is that the snare can feel a bit thin in the mix, but this is the producer's fault and not Greening's as the snare is tuned very well and would thud with the power of the guitar and bass if the production was a bit better.
One of the heaviest albums I've ever heard, and a truly unsettling experience from the first second to the last, Come My Fanatics… is Electric Wizard's shining moment and one of the most important doom albums ever to be released. This is proof that EW's first lineup is still one of the most all-powerful trios in history, and Mark Greening's return to the band last year makes me extremely excited for what the future holds.
Wizard In Black
Son Of Nothing