As doom giants Electric Wizard gear up for the release of their ninth album Wizard Bloody Wizard, we also approach the three-year anniversary of its predecessor Time To Die, an LP regarded by most as a return to form for the Dorset-bred group. Opinion on their post-Dopethrone releases has been mixed but it’s fairly surprising to note that despite being one of modern metal’s biggest doom acts, the band went, in some people’s eyes, almost 15 years without a truly great album. Perhaps that view is a little harsh (Liz Buckingham’s inspired riffage on Witchcult Today deserves praise for one), but Electric Wizard have decidedly struggled to reach the unquestionable quality of their earlier releases.
Frontman and sole remaining founding member Jus Oborn once referred to Come My Fanatics, Supercoven and Dopethrone as the “trilogy of terror,” and it’s not hard to see why. The band cemented their place in doom metal history with the trio of releases, all unleashed between 1997 and 2000, and would then embark on a string of releases that would try and fail to reach the lofty peaks of the unequalled trilogy. Wedged in the middle of the band’s two now-legendary full-lengths, Come My Fanatics and career standout Dopethrone, is the drug-induced nightmare of Supercoven, the band’s third proper EP. Arguably the most forgotten of the three, the EP is perhaps the band’s weirdest and most hauntingly captivating moment.
In true doom fashion, it refrains from any hint of succinctness, the shortest of the release’s original two tracks surpassing the thirteen-minute mark, and despite only comprising four tracks in its longest from (the 2000 remaster) it dedicates more than enough time to ghostly ambience and frightful psychedelia twisted enough to provide an enthralling voyage, no bong required. Weaving stonerisms into its hypnotisingly monotonous paces, the EP paints a grand but dismal picture of the band’s epic talent.
The guitars of the opener and title-track take the drawn-out stoner riffs the band are known for to the extreme, utilising ominous droning guitars with wavering reverb alongside a weighty dose of mind-bending sonics, keeping things simple but nevertheless menacing and mesmeric. A submerged sound production ensures the EP retains an air of otherworldliness, even when launching into the momentum-gathering grooves of ‘Burnout’. As the EP’s second track, ‘Burnout’ features a more complex orchestration of aggressive guitars but doesn’t let up on the spaced-out atmospherics, whilst the addition of ‘Wizards Of Lore’ and a live rendition of the band’s eponymous self-titled song on the 2000 reissue adds even more depth to this tripped-out odyssey of an EP.
Instead of trying to mimic the gloomy heaviness of Dopethrone, as they did fairly successfully on Time To Die, perhaps Electric Wizard could benefit from returning to the unfathomably hallucinogenic eccentricities of the rather overlooked Supercoven on their upcoming full-length. Such an undertaking would undoubtedly be ambitious, but so were all the releases in Oborn’s “trilogy of terror”, and perhaps in order to rehash that doomy magic the band need to embrace the idea of obnoxiously long tracks dipped in oozing psychedelia and Sabbathian riffs.
Wizard Bloody Wizard is out November 10th via Spinefarm. Pre-order here.
Words: George Parr