Review Summary: Quite simply the heaviest album ever made.
So you want to get into doom metal and stoner metal" Look no further than Electric Wizard. The British trio (or quartet, depending on the album) are known for consistently bringing colossal riffs that seem to rise out of a haze of pot smoke, to the tune of seven albums that have earned a spot in any doomster's collection. But only one of those albums can truly be called the pinnacle of the genre: Dopethrone
Electric Wizard (at this time) were:
Jus Osborn - vocals, guitar
Tim Bagshaw - bass
Mark Greening - drums
Since its release in 2000, Dopethrone
has received tremendous, arguably hyperbolic praise from the metal community as a whole. It's quite possibly the most beloved doom metal album of the post-Sabbath era, and with good reason. Electric Wizard achieved the goal that every group of Tony Iommi-worshiping stoners set out for after listening to Paranoid
and Master of Reality
: to create an album that's titanically heavy, hypnotically groovy and overwhelmingly awesome.
The production on this album is superb, from guitar fuzz that would make Blue Cheer weep with joy to a cavernous drum tone that makes every cymbal crash sound downright apocalyptic. There is a distortion on Jus Osborn's vocals that adds incredible power to them, even though the lyrics never stray from the typical Wizard themes of horror movies, misanthropy and marijuana. No other album in the EW catalog sounds quite like Dopethrone
, which is part of what elevates to such a monumental status. More importantly, though, this is the Wizard at the peak of their songwriting ability. Most of their albums have a tendency to meander here and there, or rely too much on a riff that doesn't quite have the juice to last for upwards of seven minutes. That trap is avoided here (for the most part--"I, the Witchfinder" could lose a few minutes, and the droning final part of the "Weird Tales" suite loses me), and instead EW provide us grateful listeners with some of the best strings of riffs ever put on record, even when there are only two or three on a song.
If I wanted to really sum up my feelings about everything positive on this album, I could just start listing great individual moments. The opening bassline of "Vinum Sabbathi;" the climax of "Funeralopolis;" the high energy opening of "Barbarian," perfectly sequenced after "The Altar of Melektaus"; Osborn's "I AM ALBINO" vocal entrance on "I, the Witchfinder," etc. It's tough to come away from this album without a few moments that make you smile.
Electric Wizard could have easily called it a day after their first three albums--the self-titled debut, Come My Fanatics...
and this album--and walked away with a reputation as one of the greatest metal bands in any genre. They have remained kings (and queen, in Liz Buckingham's case) of the stoner doom scene in the past decade and a half, but the heights of Dopethrone
are unreachable. If you want to know what the fuss is about this style of music, I can't possibly recommend it enough. And if you already know, it never hurts to put it on again.