Thursday, December 30, 2010

Electric Wizard – Black Masses

There are many (too many, in fact) doom metal bands out there but I will always make time for Electric Wizard. Black Masses is the Dorset, England band’s 7th album and is pretty much business as usual but there are a few different audio elements to keep things from getting too redundant. The Black Sabbath/Pentagram foundation remains as well as NWOBHM creeps like Venom and Witchfinder General but there’s a stronger psychedelic feel than on some of their previous records. It also sounds a bit like the influence of fuzz-guitar maestro Davie Allan is in the mix, too. Not surprising since Electric Wizard love all the violent 60’s biker movies that Allan did music for just as much as the horror/cult films they sometimes sample.

The twin axe attack of singer Justin Oborn and wife Elizabeth Buckingham is very thick, fuzzed out and layered with trippy effects. Justin’s vocals pop in and out of the mix to bleat his bleak views and call upon Satan to help him navigate this wicked world. Shaun Rutter’s drums plod and thud accordingly in a most Master Of Reality way and blend well with new “necrobassist” Tas Danazoglou. It’s worth noting that Tas has some really intimidating facial tattoos.

For a band so heavy and negative, the songs are surprisingly catchy. “Black Mass” will have everyone yelling “hear me Lucifer” loud and strong at the live show. “Venus In Furs” is not a cover of the Velvet Underground classic (although I’d like to hear them tackle it) but does share the S&M subject matter. Clocking in at 8 minutes, my favorite song might be “The Nightchild” just because of the strong Witchfinder General feel.

The entire album is solid and flows together really well. The tempos are never too fast, and they really excel at the real snail crawlers like “Satyr IX.” There’s even an instrumental dirge called “Crypt Of Drugula” with some very cool atmospherics that’s cooler than anything Eno’s ever done. This is a great one to play late at night in a car full of people you don’t know very well. They’d really freak! Unless they’re already freaks, then they’d love it.

-- Woody

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