Electric Wizard - Witchcult Today Review
by Matt Hensch
Really can't go wrong with Electric Wizard. Look at all you get: gallons of psychedelic doom, loads of crushing riffs, twisted vocals, retrogressive honesty, a few hits from the bong, maybe. Nope, really can't go wrong with Electric Wizard. Yea, some folks have a little trouble swallowing the doom sandwich artistically comprised by these high-as-balls occultists; their style is generally unconventional and unforgivably bold, a recipe great for attracting many and repelling some. With "Witchcult Today," we see Electric Wizard attempting their most comfortable album ever. There's no deep agenda to deeply reinvent doom/stoner metal or turn the band's uprising on its bum. Nope, just the obscene rites we've all come to expect from this fantastic band, slowly cooked and blessed by the unholy sabbath.
Electric Wizard has a very vintage sounding postulate; "Witchcult Today" was recorded with equipment from the 1970s, in fact. Here, the songs are naturally...better than most of their other releases, really. I find myself enjoying their specific doom metal episodes a little more for whatever reason despite little having changed from the group's original incarnation. Electric Wizard is simply turning your brain into a molten pool of protoplasmic gunk, just like usual. However, none can deny the utter strength and consistency lurching within the album's many seismic creepers. Using the toxic art of crawling doom metal to its maximum effect, Electric Wizard struts through excellent doom numbers with savagely brilliant precision. Jus Osborn's wretched vocals are—considering the usual bane that expels from his voice—easier to digest here than other releases by the band. As I said, "Witchcult Today" feels like Electric Wizard finding a more palatable approach to its own skin than ever before.
One complaint often hurled at Electric Wizard's ceremony here is the repetition and overuse of these basic riffs...well, this is Electric Wizard, so what in the butt were you expecting? Some scale-molesting shindig à la Spawn of Possession? No, shut your goddamn mouth. There are only a few selective guitar cuts swirling in each track, but they're selective cuts for a reason; totally prime and slow-roasted echoes of distorted gloom resonate in the intoxicated strings as nature originally intended. Specifically, the mentionable moments are almost everywhere: the chorus of "Dunwich" is catchy and diabolical, "Satanic Rites of Drugula" tramples on in its devilish daze from start to finish, and you'll have the whole pie called "Torquemada 71" bouncing around your head for days. The record’s longer anthems march on and on in a drug-fueled escapade of pure damnation and darkness with only a handful of instrumental blueprints per song, and it’s really amazing how well tools like repetition and atmosphere are utilized so magnificently here.
"Black Magic Rituals and Perversions," clocking in at eleven minutes of samples and creepy guitar work, is, however, a little too much; a cool interlude, but certainly not worthy of its ungodly length. Yea, I know Electric Wizard has an occasional knack for instrumental weirdness with ambient touches or whatever, but this just feels excessive. Thankfully, the remaining portions of "Witchcult Today" remain stellar and honest through stomping scenes of Hell like "The Chosen Few" or butchering, foggy malevolence occupying the essence of the title slice. The other tunes are utterly fantastic, gripping with the core elements of psychedelic doom metal at its most stoned and volatile. One could reasonably argue that “Witchcult Today” is Electric Wizard’s crowning achievement, and I would order no protest if declared so.
Electric Wizard - Witchcult Today
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