So I had no idea that there was a new Electric Wizard disc out this week, nor even looming on the horizon. Had it not been for a chance visit to the Rise Above Records site, this one would have completely slipped under my radar, and that would have been a tragedy. Why? Because Electric Wizard are, quite simply, one of the best doom bands on the planet. Ever. Care to argue that point? One word – DOPETHRONE; your argument is rendered moot. And while the band has had its stylistic changes over the years, Electric Wizard have become one of the most consistent and respected bands in the genre. Their latest full length, BLACK MASSES is another fine example as to why.
BLACK MASSES picks up right where 2007’s WITCHCULT TODAY left off, and with the exception of some production differences, the tunes sound and feel just like that album. One the one hand, that’s just fine, because it plays to exactly what fans of the band would expect. On the other hand, it’s a little bit of a buzz kill, because we waited 3 years for more of the same? However, if you view BLACK MASSES strictly on its own merit and aside from EW’s previous body of work, you still get a solid doom record through and through. As with the last few albums, BLACK MASSES clocks in at just under an hour, with each track around or above the six-minute mark. Songs like the title track, “Venus in Furs,” and “Turn Off Your Mind” lock into the band’s trademark molasses drenched rhythm and pull you in closer and closer until you’re swinging your noggin in headbanging bliss. Other songs like “The Nightchild” and “Scorpio Curse” are destined for black lights and bongs, with their plodding pace and wailing vocals. The closing “Crypt of Drugula” is 9 minutes of ambient noise and guitar fuzz, which admittedly I felt was a little cheap.
While the instruments themselves sound as deep and heavy as ever, the production on BLACK MASSES fails to do them justice. It sounds cold, it sounds thin. Part of what made previous efforts from the band so powerful, was the enveloping blanket of warm analog tones and audible density. As much as I enjoyed BLACK MASSES, I kept thinking how much more I’d like it had those qualities been present. That gripe aside, Electric Wizard have delivered the goods again. Call them the AC/DC of doom metal, because you generally know what you’re going to get and it’s generally going to be pretty good. BLACK MASSES should be available in physical and digital formats by the time you read this.
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