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Black Masses

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Album Review

What seemed like a one-time sonic detour on Electric Wizard's sixth album, Witchcult Today, was shown to be a concerted shift in aesthetic by its similarly conjured 2010 successor, Black Masses. On both releases, the hallowed Dorset doomsters once again sped up their typically creeping tempos and replaced their bowel-loosening bottom end for a slightly leaner, snarling guitar sound that opened some space for more prominent vocals, yet was often slathered in a ghostly feedback shroud. Change…it happens, and that means Electric Wizard fans will simply have to take or leave their heroes' latest direction and newfound sense of urgency, all of which are generously represented here by the bulldozer of a title track "Venus in Furs" (not a cover of the Velvet Underground classic, believe it or not) and "The Nightchild" (boasting oddly horn-like accompaniments). All three of these cuts inevitably lock into a hypnotic, insistent cadence over which vocalist Jus Oborn proceeds to moan and wail disconsolately while simultaneously weaving his seismic guitar parts in morbid harmony with those of Liz Buckingham — now his longest tenured bandmate, given the debut of a new rhythm section in bassist Tas and drummer Shaun Rutter on this release. And, though no less energetic than the aforementioned songs (by historic Electric Wizard standards, anyway), the supremely wicked twosome of "Patterns of Evil" and "Turn off Your Mind" finally see almighty riffing overwhelm the otherwise dominant grooves as they always would in the past. Yet, amazingly, "Satyr IX" and "Scorpio Curse" are the only traditional doom grinds on display, and it must be said the first sounds pretty uneventful and tired, arguably justifying the band's wish to move on to something else, creatively speaking. Finally, the album closing instrumental, "Crypt of Drugula," joins a long string of sinister, soundtrack-like drones spread across Electric Wizard's formidable canon, proving that the group's blackened soul certainly remains fundamentally unchanged. And perhaps it is this partial reconnection with those roots that elevates Black Masses above the preceding Witchcult Today, and will surely remind fans why Electric Wizard's shadow still looms dark over the entire new millennium doom universe.

Customer Reviews

Impenetrable darkness, Impeccable record!

Wizardkind have right to shake in their mud-streaked, forest-dwelling slippers.
Children at play at night have right to heed their mothers warnings.
Atrium-hanging monstrosities of every ilk best bade their kind remain indoors on this, the night of Black Masses.
Striking down all real and incorporeal barriers to the ever-widening expansion of their vinyl-black, starkly demonic, unholy sounds upon the earth,
The lads and lady of Dorset's death-cult-hymn-spewing-light-renouncing-brain-pulversizing Electric Wizard present us with another banquet of barely contained
pure evil-given-sonic-form. The setting has pleasantly changed, for now we are at table in a fiendish nightmare castle on a stormy night, with a void rippling in the floor which when fallen into transports one alternately to cosmic infinity and satan' very own lair, as opposed to fallout-drenched dune-scapes of dying far-stars echoing with the birth-cries of horizon wide Black Butterflies or wallowing in the putrid mires of some ghastly under-realm in search of the tainted myth of the Dopethrone. So this should be: picking galaxies out of their teeth while razing ever onward and outwards throughout all known time and space would naturally invite the eventuality of new sonic ground to cover at all times. This is evident on the record: powerful, elemental, flowing track list, with equally stream-of-consciousness-ly composed lyrics and riffs (and song structures have gained that incremental increase in complexity - the beast is adapting to its new prey!! how frightening, yet thrilling, eh?). All Electric wizard have ever done is be themselves. F**k anyone who can't see that,
and so bask in the obvious might and deeply soul-disfiguring callousness that is this scythe sharp yet impossibly existing-beneath-the-endless-void,
beautifully realised (all on vintage equipment!),
above all, versatile (Doom is explored in all its corners, empowering it immeasurably, some might say even intimidatingly! ah, were us listeners not also threads of the same dark veil as our good Electric Wizard kin...I shudder to consider such horror! this is surely one for those accustomed to the sounds of demons' bowel movements, who feel the whispers of warp-fiends in the depths of their very souls - like minded, nice folks really...hehe),
Infinity out of Infinity is my score! and into the moaning, blackened vortex beyond...


Formed: 1993 in Dorset, England

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Often referred to as the "heaviest band in the universe," England's Electric Wizard have consistently redefined the preconceived thresholds of a detuned guitar chord with their peerless doom metal achievements -- this despite an often interpersonally troubled, if musically triumphant, career. Formed in darkest Dorset by vocalist/guitarist Justin Oborn (previously with Lords of Putrefaction), bassist Tim Bagshaw, and drummer Mark Greening, and initially known as Thy Grief Eternal (briefer still, simply...
Full Bio

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