Review Summary: "So, what did the Wizard actually say when at the Astral Gate they slipped?"
ML: "As a very doom-metal specific question: what do you consider to be the critical elements of a Doom album? Do you focus on those when you're writing tracks, or is the whole 'genre' thing a secondary, or irrelevant, consideration?"
JO: "We always try to write good songs. Doom to me is in my soul and whatever I play will have that spirit. If you try to write to a genre you are just an actor playing a role…it's not real. Thats the problem with music today , it's not from the soul its just a stylistic thing. Genres are a prison for real artists."
- Jus Oborn, doom-metal.com interview with Mike Liassides, 2018
Psst... Hey, kid.
Yes, you with the leather and denim, who's favorite color is black.
You, who just got through your 79th listen of Master of Reality and still can't get enough of it.
Are you looking for more?
Well, you're in luck.
Started as a garage band in 1988, with a will of steel and eyes of doom, Jus Oborn's passion-project-turned-greatest-doom-band-in-the-world went through line-up changes as well as nominal ones.
In 1992 the early band known as "Lord of Putrefacation" changed it's moniker.
To "Thy Grief Eternal", then changed it again '93.
To just "Eternal" (we're getting there).
All of note that was made at this period of the band's history can be heard on the 'Pre-Electric Wizard (1989-1994)' compilation they'd release later.
Finally, in '94 teaming up with Tim Bagshaw and Mark Greening, ever the stone dead Sabbath worshippers they are, Oborn and the gang took two of their favorite songs; Electric Funeral and The Wizard - and you know what happened next.
Q: "Is the name Electric Wizard made out of two Black Sabbath song titles?"
JO: "(smoking a big bud of weed through a can) Haha, yeah it is!"
Q: "Electric Funeral and the Wizard? Is that some kind of ode to the heroes?"
JO: "Yeah, those two songs. An ode? No. Well... yeah. I don’t know, we were very wasted and we had to come up with a name. We just came up with Electric Wizard and stuck with it."
- Interview with Jus Oborn and Liz Buckingham, metalrage.com, 2005.
For all the outcasts, quiet ones, stoner-rockers and dragonauts, in 1994 your doom-laden messianic trio arrived on the scene with their self-titled debut LP, rocking it hard with lightning, power and might.
This absolute elemental titan of psychedelic metal starts off with an overture - all classy like, for you more 'sophisticated' folk.
Honestly, it gives off a 'Symphony of Destruction' calm-before-storm kind of vibe, and that statement in itself is many things, a complaint not one of them.
The seats are set. The conductor is ready. The lever is pulled.
And we're off, with 'Stone Magnet' - a tightly-nit opener track, letting the listener in on Wizard's dirty little secret, getting them ready for the motions.
A competent statement of intent and, on a more personal note, my recommended song for laying your back on a soft couch after a rough day, pulling out the sensi and ripping it up in relaxation (as well as trying to figure out what in the well-meaning f#%k a "stone magnet" actually is).
By the time you get past the first third of the album, you get where this band is coming from.
The lyrics are creative, evocative, psychonautic and delicious. The musicianship is energetic, top-notch and you get exactly who inspired these guys and what they're setting themselves (and you, as well) up for.
Every song on this album has a 'straight out the garage' feel to it, and why the hell not - the titanic trio were in their early 20's young adult phase at this point, and it shows - the angsty, teenage rebellion is worn on this album's sleeve.
I'd even say that's exactly what it's main appeal is and what separates this 'stonier' approach from the Wizard's darker and 'sludgier' later releases (the Fanatics are yet to Come).
This album has a lot to offer, and veteran Wizard fans coming back to this, I'd say, should get giddy with this early middle finger of Oborn's ultraviolet solo segments, Bagshaw's behemoth (yes) basslines, Greening's earth-quaking drum rhythms - and how they'll all come to evolve into the absolute onslaught of the succeeding album.
And the lyrics.
From the apocalyptic 'Mourning Prayer', to the Lovecraftian 'Black Butterfly', to the persephonic 'Devil's Bride' - this songwriting is vintage Doom.
'Behemoth', I'm convinced was at least inspired by the British monster movie.
And that's not even saying anything, considering the best part of the LP is yet to come.
"Yeah these things have always been an inspiration. When we started the biggest influences were Black Sabbath, Budgie and Blue Cheer. I think we have always had this sound…in the 90's doom was very boring and gothic sounding and we defiantly wanted to bring in influences from heavy 70's rock. I think this is the basis of our sound, I mean everyone in the south west of England is inspired by Hawkwind."
- Jus Oborn, doom-metal.com interview, 2018.
Yeah, this album's influences are a crown upon it's forehead.
Definitely contained within these tracks are psychedelic favorites Hawkwind and Sabbath.
Especially contained, however, is the Wizard's anteceding doom metal forefather, Cathedral.
Fun fact, this album was produced by Oborn himself, along with a man by the name of Paul Johnson. Now, Rise Above Records, under whose label this album was released in '94, was founded by Lee Dorrian - frontman of... (You guessed it).
Do a side-by-side; queue up 'Mourning Prayer' next to Cathedral's 'Commiserating the Celebration', and tell me I'm wrong.
The entire LP as a whole sounds like a teenaged version of Cathedral, with a slightly more 'modernized' approach to Doom.
Now, you can be a sourpuss and hold this against the band as a demerit, or, you can head on over to my recommended listening tab for this review, look up 'Forest of Equilibrium', queue it up after listening to this beast and enjoy them both for the absolute monolithic masterpieces they are.
All up to you, but you cannot convince me, even with evidence, that this album is not tight, right, and ready to fight.
Consistency is key and this release is commendably so. There's a difference between how the songs on 'Kill Em' All' sound very much alike and sometimes blend in with one another. This is different.
Every song on this Wizard's overture has something new to throw at you, coming at you in two speeds; slow and 'kinda slow-ish'.
No joke, these songs go by with the speed of a rhinoceros feeding itself in the savannah. But hey, that's the name of the game - you don't get into speed-metal expecting the BPM of a longboat row-drummer.
Every song has it's jewel.
'Devil's Bride' slows down, opening up the earth under your feet, readying you for the rise of Oborn's demonic, wah-wah blazoned solo to grab you and drag you back down with it to the Halls of Lord Hades himself.
'Black Butterfly' is a slow song throughout, until the Butterfly is in full flight and sledgehammers you with that speedy outro you know you'll come to remember.
'Behemoth' comes to a scorching halt, letting Bagshaw and Greening take the centre-stage combo, with Oborn echoing his warning to the world as the Behemoth itself awakes from it's slumber and spreads its wings; which is exactly why Oborn then comes back, colliding into you with a meteoric solo as Behemoth, in it's vengeance, sets forth to doom the planet, the world as we know it engulfed in the flames of it's sardonic malice.
To sum it all up.
A solid release, with exceptionally good moments every Wizard (and Doom) fan should experience.
'Electric Wizard LP' descends upon you from Alpha Centauri, gives you exactly what you asked for, says what it has to say, and ascends back into the great unknown from whence it came.
Easily among the Wizard's Top Shelf Works.
A must-listen for every Doom fan
And then, there's the great closer.
Let's do this.
The band's call to arms.
Their rallying cry.
Their eponymous statement of crystal clear, malefic intent.
Best song on the album?
Of the best Wizard songs overall?
Oh, very yes.
Is all this why we love this song so much?
Why we love this song is because it tells us exactly who the Wizard is, how this all started and, most importantly, why we're all under the power of his weaving spell.
Reader, let me tell you a story.
One day, Oborn and the gang were sitting and wondering where it's all at, when, all of a sudden, down from the sky comes a dragon - the Wizard on it's back.
'Step on' he said, 'I'll take you for a trip'.
Then up they flew, up into space, at the Astral Gates, they slipped out beyond our System, out into deepest space.
At the edge of time itself, where stood the Towers Black - onward they flew, the Wizard knew there was no turning back, and cast a spell on our trio so they may journey even further into the void (yes).
Higher and higher, through the Cosmos, they tripped, seeing stars turn inside out - they thought they'd finally gone and flipped.
Under the spell of the Wizard, they took to their instruments.
Upon the back of the Great Dragon they played.
Through the virgin universe, creating and destroying with the music they made.
"Colours swirling, sounds are dripping,
thinking we were dead.
The Wizard turned, and spoke to us.
And this is what he said."