[sic] Magazine

Electric Wizard -Time to Die

There is an interesting space being carved out by bands such as Sunn O))), OM and Electric Wizard. Om with Advaitic Songs incorporated heavy drone and ethnic music in a very compelling record that both rocked and got me college credit in my anthropology class. Joking aside I’ve never been a fan of the Norse imagery/Satanic vibe that some bands that play kindred music to Electric Wizard seem to promote to their audience, and it’s for this reason that I’ve always felt a need to steer away from this stuff. I can trace this fear back to when I was in high school and first listened to Motley Crue’s Shout at the Devil or Ozzy’s Crazy Train. Those two tracks scared me straight back to my Yes 90125 and Thompson Twins records. Something about the heaviness made me feel as if I would end up one of the pot smoking neer do wells that hung outside my high school wearing Krokus and Iron Maiden T-shirts.

Then college hit me and a few key friends introduced me to a “stay heavy” vibe that resonated with me. All of a sudden by listening to Black Sabbath, Motörhead, and Hawkwind I was able to enjoy the heavy without punishing myself for it or feeling the need for a dose of The Smiths to make me feel as if I was normal again. This was the moment where I was able to break free of some of the cliché’s that music and personal identity sometimes create especially in college. I was resolutely a Curve fan and now I felt I could openly enjoy bands like Sleep wearing it like a badge of honor that for once I wasn’t subject to the political correctness of college music culture.

I’ve been listening to Electric Wizard since their Dopethrone Album, which is so Heavy it makes the Melvin’s seem like Justin Bieber. The new record Time to Die is an incredibly dense affair. It is volcanic with streams of lava running in rivulets down the side of a fog-enshrouded mountain. It’s a violently isolationist album. In the hypoxic environment that it exists, the squalls of guitars cranked to 11, squeezed through Orange amps is at moments too much to take. If you’ve been to a concert and found yourself in front of one of the speakers, and had your ears blown out, only to be deaf for 2 days after than this is the album that replicates that experience in spades.

A guitarist friend of mine explained to me, that to make such music is an art unto itself. The sound seems deceptively simple, yet is incredibly hard to render correctly. The strings, the distortion has to be tweaked perfectly to achieve the effect that Electric Wizard offers up here.

Unlike many doom metal bands the greatness of Electric Wizard can be found that they have a real melodic sense. They create instantly memorable songs that you’ll find yourself humming. The track, ‘Time to Die’, is a perfect case in point, it is such a profoundly kick ass song, that I found myself putting it on constant repeat. The guitar work, the infectious melody, the squalls from the Wah-wah pedal, conspire to put anyone who loves heavy, undersea, leaden guitar work in sludge heaven.

The rest of the album is equally epic in scope and exhibits spectacular musicianship. ‘I Am Nothing’, is so brutally heavy, that it’s amazing that even with the full frontal aural assault a song can be found inside. Elizabeth Buckingham one of the Wizard’s guitarists provides brilliant flourishes throughout the length of the song.

Electric Wizard has created something mighty with Time to Die. It isn’t an easy listen in that it will take you to some pretty negative places, but if you can manage to hold on for the ride the result is you’ll have opened your world to a whole new sonic palette, which will allow you to enjoy music that once felt off-limits. Don’t forget to leave the lights on.

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