The latest effort from England’s reigning doom entities Electric Wizard, Time to Die, deserves every accolade thrown its way. The band’s lackluster 2010 effort Black Masses fell rather flat, trailing its own hailed predecessor with a rote, lifeless performance. It sounded like the band had gotten cocky, resting comfortably on laurels sprouted after the roaring success of 2007’s Witchcult Today, the catchy, menacing genius of which (thanks in no small part to guitarist Liz Buckingham’s inspired riffs) earned a place of reverence within the modern doom canon. It took some time for them to refine their footing, and after shunning live appearances for years, the band began playing live with unprecedented frequency. That added dose of energy has clearly seeped into these new tunes—there’s a rawness and immediacy that will surely translate well into a live setting.
From the first burbling moments and crackling sample from a 1984 “20/20” special on “Acid King” Richard Kasso, Time to Die holds its listeners close, inviting us into a warped echo chamber of horrors filled with eldritch evil. From their beginnings, Electric Wizard’s whole shtick has revolved around drugs, sleazy horror movies, and drawn-out stoner riffs designed to gnaw through your skull. Songs like “We Love the Dead” and “Destroy Those Who Love God” nod at the band’s gleeful urge to shock, and “I Am Nothing” hints at the darker thoughts that may swirl past the velvet-swaddled nymphs and technicolor gore in its creator’s head. Vocalist Jus Osborn doesn’t really sing; rather, he mumbles, he whines, and above all, he wails, his high warble losing itself in the music as easily as if it were a moonless night on the moors.
Recently recruited bassist Clayton Burgess, of heavy garage punks Satan’s Satyrs, places his stamp on the fuzz-drenched low end while drummer Mark Greening holds court behind the kit, crashing and bashing with impeccable timing and remarkable restraint. This marks Greening’s first time playing and recording with the band since 2002’s immortal Dopethrone, and he makes his presence known. It takes a veteran to add the amount of pure heft these songs need to stay in line, and Greening makes it look easy. He and Burgess are crucial to the proceedings, especially given the significance the rhythm section holds in anchoring those mammoth grooves and providing support for the all-important riffs.
Buckingham’s swinging saturnine riffs solidify Electric Wizard’s reputation, even buried under the customary leagues of distortion and reverb; Osborn holds his own too, especially during those wah-wah solos and moments of cosmic shred on “Funeral of Your Mind”. The garage-rock-tinged psychedelic rocker is the Black Sabbath song that Birmingham’s finest could’ve written if they had stuck with the drugs and stayed off the telly, and the same could be said of nearly everything Electric Wizard has written: their worship for the Sab Four bleeds through in their work so garishly that it would be funny if the band wasn’t so deadly serious.
“SadioWitch” finds Osborn sneering over a perversely simple rock beat, and “We Love the Dead” is an impossibly murky dirge built upon a zombified tempo, eerie melody, and elephantine central riff with sustain so pronounced you can hear Buckingham’s fingers vibrating over the frets before the psychedelic freakout that caps it all off. Between the ominous media muttering and unconscionably tense guitar drones, “Destroy Those Who Love God” is more than a little unnerving; meanwhile, an eerie Moog synth drives instrumental album closer “Saturn Dethroned”, slowly collapsing and dissolving into the same burbling stream that kicked off the album. It’s rare to see a band as established as Electric Wizard come back from a slump with renewed vigor and a fresh shot of hellfire coursing through their veins, but with Time to Die, they’ve both surpassed expectations and proved that they’re still as vital as they ever were.
from Album Reviews – Pitchfork http://ift.tt/1vvStJb