Review Summary: Less the pungent odor of marijuana, more the lingering stench of corpses and burnt candles.
At this point in time, it’d be redundant to give some long introductory monologue about the state of doom and stoner metal music, and how the veterans of the genre have somehow managed to rise again and outdo newer bands. Face it: Electric Wizard is, and always has been, one of the most consistent and excellent bands in doom metal. Even those that have barely gotten into entry-level doom have probably at least heard the name. Whether it’s the slow, creepy atmosphere on Come My Fanatics…
, the ugly, sludge feel of We Live
, the drugged up insanity of Dopethrone
, or the excellent return to form of Witchcult Today
, Electric Wizard are one of the few bands that have never made a bad album. By now, we already know the drill: Mind-numbingly heavy riffs, distorted vocals, ambient droning well after the instruments have stopped playing, and so on. However, there’s only so long that a band can be consistent before they go into rehashing territory and fall into the vicious cycle of mediocrity. At some point, that momentum is going to start falling apart, and the next thing you know, fans will quickly get bored with the newer work and yearn for the glory days once more. Sure, some have managed to rise back from the ashes for the last laugh, but once you’ve been thrust into the void, it takes a lot of perseverance to get out. And with Time To Die
, Electric Wizard aim to answer the nagging question of whether they can still hold up to the standards they set with the rest of their discography.
From the moment you see the track times and total album length, it becomes obvious that Electric Wizard aren’t even remotely close to letting up when it comes to the serious business. Only three tracks dip below seven minutes, and the album is exactly one hour, five minutes, and twenty-three seconds long. That’s longer than any other album in the band’s discography
(minus the bonus tracks/ambient noise in Dopethrone
). By Electric Wizard standards, that’s quite an accomplishment, for better or worse. The music itself refuses to disappoint, either. More or less, it’s over an hour of everything you’ve come to love or hate about the band. Be it the sinister, menacing vocals from Jus Oborn, the unfathomably crunchy guitar riffs and solos from Liz Buckingham, the loud, distorted bass of Clayton Burgess, or the distant, pounding drums of returning member Mark Greening, Electric Wizard channel forth the purest elements of their sound. It’s a harsh, disconnecting, unforgiving journey back into the darkest corners of doom metal, from the disturbing news-clip in the intro of “Incense for the Damned” to the continuous stream of downbeat guitars and Jus Oborn’s psychopathic rambling in “I Am Nothing”. Hell, even the song titles seem threatening, with names such as “Funeral of Your Mind”, “Lucifer’s Slave”, and perhaps the most upbeat of all, “We Love The Dead”. The clip from “Incense for the Damned” is also used repeatedly in the instrumental “Destroy Those Who Love God”, adding even more of a creepy, disjointed vibe to the music. Lyrically, the music is even more soul-crushing, with lines such as The black drug took my soul away/Her venom my blood/My tortured mind is numb/Now I am a slave/Forever in her chains”
However, here’s where the main drawback of the album might begin to surface: There’s just too much to take in. Electric Wizard have always exercised in the art of excess, but here, there are times where it can feel like it’s too over-the-top, making it harder to power through the whole album unless you’re really into the music and feel “in the mood”, so to speak. But this is arguably the album’s biggest strength as well. The music is focused and cohesive enough to the point where it becomes impossible to just listen to. You have to really experience
that sense of hopelessness, that unfathomable misery, to make the music feel whole. And ultimately, that’s the deciding factor here. If you’re willing to listen to over an hour of depressing, dismal music that deviates from traditional stoner rock and embraces the occult, then chances are that you’ll find Time To Die
to be one of the better doom albums of 2014. But if you go through it inexperienced, unprepared, and with the wrong mindset, you’ll find Electric Wizard’s music more of a chore to listen to.
In the end, though, Electric Wizard are masters of being consistent at their craft, and this shines through in Time To Die
perfectly. You won’t find much on here that you haven’t already heard before, but it’s executed so flawlessly that it doesn’t end up being problematic. Even if Time To Die
does require a little more dedication and patience than most albums from the band, the eerie, ominous tone is what really completes the album and makes it a worthy addition to Electric Wizard’s discography.