Release Date: Sep 30, 2014
Record label: Spinefarm Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Heavy Metal
U.K. doom legends Electric Wizard have been reliably delivering the Hammer horror–infused doom-metal goods for nearly two decades now. Though their output has never been less than infernally good, 'Time to Die' may be their grave-churningest, witchburningest slab since 2000’s 'Dopethrone.' As with their best stuff, there’s an almost primal ugliness underlying tracks like “Incense for the Damned,” “Funeral of Your Mind,” and “Lucifer’s Slaves”—as if sightless, crawling beings have somehow learned to pound out Black Sabbath riffs—which is certainly due in part to the return of original drummer Mark Greening.
Here’s the deal: Electric Wizard are one of the heaviest, nastiest doom metal bands of all time. If you’ve ever listened to an Electric Wizard album before you’ll know what you’re getting yourself in for. The songs are slow and built around crushingly heavy repeated riffs with lengthy jams. The vocals are distorted often to the point of incomprehensibility.
The bloody noise of Electric Wizard is unrelentingly black. Not to be outdone by US stoner-rock peers Sleep and Earth, who have records out this year, the Dorset satanists have spat out this eighth album. Doom metal needs chaos and angst, so news of acrimonious splits is welcome, if not for former label Rise Above and original drummer Mark Greening (recalled to play on ‘Time To Die’ and booted out again).
Holed up in a part of Dorset better known for retirement homes than black masses, Electric Wizard have become something of a British (and they are very British) institution. Now one of the more respected doom metal acts in the world, they’ve spent the last 20-odd years building up not only a formidable fanbase, but a sort of self-contained universe inhabited by malevolent occult practitioners, psychotic bikers, topless maidens, 70s horror and drugs – a lot of drugs. It’s an ambience that practically bleeds from the speakers during Time To Die, their first album in four years and their debut for Universal’s Spinefarm imprint.
Having spent the past two decades turning the notion of taking things slowly – both musically and in terms of career momentum – into an art form, Electric Wizard will probably regard their recent assimilation into the world of hipster approval as an accidental bonus wrung from their own slithering persistence. The UK doom-metal legends certainly haven’t compromised at any point along the road, and although signing to a bigger label and winning over a few Shoreditch berks will ensure that Time to Die is the band’s most high-profile release to date, nothing can detract from the monumental density and weight of these hostile and misanthropic psych-jams. Immersed in macabre kitsch and THC’d into hellish oblivion, the Wizard’s trademark sound eschews experimentation in favour of the fervent pursuit of inconceivable, remorseless heaviness, replete with mesmerising repetition and enough reverb to make the whole harrowing enterprise feel like a slow-motion nose-dive into the abyss.
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.
The more things change the more they stubbornly remain the same in Electric Wizard's world. Time to Die signals more lineup changes in the return of original drummer Mark Greening (he has since been replaced by the man he replaced, Simon Poole). There is also no bassist in the lineup here (the "Count Orlof" referred to in the credits is actually Justin Oborn); Clayton Burgess is in the chair now.
Let's just get this out of the way: Time To Die does not hold a candle to Electric Wizard's cult-classic Dopethrone. In the 14 years since that record was released, the band have gone through a bad trip of line-up changes and a variety of variations on doom, having yet to create anything to rival their masterpiece's brilliance.It should be of some note, then, that the drummer from that era, Mark Greening, returned to the fold to record Time To Die, though his presence on this record is mostly just symbolic (and he promptly left afterward). Electric Wizard are a very different band now — they might not be able to recreate their landmark record, but they've learned from it and everything else they've done.
Dorset doom legends Electric Wizard don’t mess about. They know what they’re good at, and what they like to do, and stick to it without compromise. Their sound (think Black Sabbath playing Sleep or Kyuss at half-speed), though hardly unique, is far fuller and more accomplished than that of many of their contemporaries and imitators. On Time To Die, their first album since 2010’s Black Masses, they predictably deliver more of the same – and that’s a good thing.
Richard 'Ricky' Kasso, aka The Acid King, was seventeen years old when he shot to infamy for the murder of Gary Lauwers in Northport, Long Island in June 1984. Under the influence of powerful hallucinogenic drugs at the time, the murder took place in a reported satanic ritual in the woods − it was alleged he cut out the victim's eyes. Two days after he was arrested (wearing an AC/DC shirt), Kasso hanged himself in his cell.