Review Summary: Immersing yourself into this album is like dipping your body into some stale, tepid bathwater. Unless this release represents a kind of one-off mistake, it's sadly just a culmination of their undulating but progressively downwards trend.
note: Sputnik turned all my question marks into quotation marks and I can't seem to fix it. So keep that in mind.
Immersing yourself into this album is like dipping your body into some stale, tepid bathwater. Unless this represents a kind of one-off mistake, then it is sadly just a culmination of their undulating but progressively downwards trend since reaching their high water mark on Dopethrone. If future releases continue in this vein, I can’t see any reason to continue to listen to this band.
The argument is “well, the Wizard can’t just keep rehashing their classics.” That’s completely true. I’d rather see a band trying out new ideas and failing than simply flailing around with more and more similar, contrived ideas. But “Electric Wizard tries to be even more like Black Sabbath or a vampiric Zep” is by no means a fresh, new, or exciting direction. In theory, Electric Wizard playing some stripped-down 70s-style homages with their trademark misanthropy sounds like an excellent idea. But as this album reveals -- it’s apparently not something they can effectively pull off.
Unlike, say, Sabbath, there is very little talent, spirit, and energy on this release. The riffs are bland, the guitar work is banal and slightly sloppy, and while the rhythm department mostly pulls their weight, the collection of instrumentation is more or less thrashed apart by Jus’s obnoxious and incessant vocals. This kind of half-assed effort is more insulting when you remember that you can put on one of their songs like “Return Trip” at almost any party with metalheads and you’ll immediately have the entire room engaged in a roiling bout of karaoke. Again, there’s no sense in looking back a decade to what used to be -- but it’s astonishing how such a memorable group could now just be so mundane and mediocre. Are they phoning it in""
On “Wizard Bloody Wizard” we again see a new rhythm section who do a decent job at propping up the dull instrumentation of Jus and Liz. Much like how the early Wizard albums would be far more trite affairs without the ridiculous slamming of drums and the in-your-face fuzzed-out basswork, this album would be considerably worse without the interesting basslines and tasteful, retro-styled drum patterns.
Unfortunately, the main event is the guitar, which is surely at its lowest point in the band’s entire career. It’s of course not nearly as heavy as previous albums, which is fine considering the stylistic choice of this release. The real issue is how they mixed some watery distortion with uncompelling, commonplace riffs that we’ve heard variations of for decades and decades. If I’m going to listen to mediocre Sabbath/St. Vitus/Trouble ripoffs, why not listen to the real thing"" Even when the riffs are on par there seems to be a distinct apathy and tiredness behind them -- I can’t seem to find any trace of passion in any of the guitar work. The Wizard occasionally teases you with some more interesting leads and a riff or two that might catch your attention before transitioning to another section which passes into one ear and out the other. If the album was full of leads and riffs like the main event of “Wicked Caresses” this review would be a much more positive one.
To make matters worse, Jus’s vocals are now upfront, frequent, and largely unprocessed. While his heavily-processed vocal work on previous albums was honest and somewhat charming, he hasn’t seemed to refine his technique in a decade. The end result is that with the success of the Wizard, he’s confident to belt out line after line of obnoxious, annoying, ultra-nasally near-monotone melodies that range from ridiculous, to laughable, to just plain distracting. He rarely shuts up too, leaving very little room for the instrumentation to take center stage and engage the listener.
The mix is pretty bad too. I’m not sure if they were deliberately going for a 70s-inspired master on this album, but it seems to sit in some troubling middle ground that isn’t retro and isn’t modern. Instead, it just doesn’t sound good and doesn’t help, focus, improve, or augment the delivery of the music whatsoever. And what the FUCK!"" Did I get a weird version of this album, or does the right channel clip noticeably throughout the entire album"" Why the FUCK is a major band on a reputable label releasing an album with nonstop hard clipping""
The drum mixing is abysmal. There’s no stereo mix whatsoever, the cymbals are just a wash of noise, the kick drum is non-existent, and as a whole the kit is buried in the mix. Albums from the 70s generally sound pretty weak these days, but what they did do right was giving the drums some serious dynamic range and thus heaviness. Not here -- instead it sounds like the drummer is beating away inside a washing machine and I can’t tell if it’s due to really poor compression or because they perhaps recorded him with only a room mic or two.
Overall, the effort falls flat. Did I mention the cover art is lame as hell too" Looks like they just scrawled some fake blood on a lady who apparently recently undressed, judging from the fact you can still see the marks of her pants on her waist -- wow, what a sexy album guys! I still can’t remember any of the riffs, and every time I’ve listened to this I’ve stopped caring at all about halfway through. It’s not bad enough where I’d rather listen to nothing, and if somebody put this on, I wouldn’t tell them to stop, but it’s pretty pathetic compared to the countless number of great doom bands operating today that run the gamut from Electric Wizard-ripoffs to Sabbath-inspired 70s throwback groups. There’s really no reason to listen to this and at this point they’re just tricking you with their legacy.
Electric Wizard needs to step the fuck back, take a tolerance break, and realize why their contemporaries are doing such a better job. I hope they rekindle whatever they had inside them when they were releasing doom that was full of esoteric aesthetic, twisted aggression, and memorable riffs. I don’t care if it’s framed in a direct 70s homage or not. This wouldn’t be a good album even with twice the distortion and heaviness in instrumentation.
Electric Wizard’s website is www.electricfuckinwizard.com. Yeah, well the only fuckin’ thing about Electic Wizard is they need to get the fuck over themselves, step up their game, and actually get some actual creative ideas in their head before they phone in the next full-length release of recycled ideas.