Electric Wizard’s wonderfully weird brand of fuzzed-out doom has served them well thus far. Despite living in the shadow of their 2000 opus Dopethrone, the Dorset-originating band have remained Britain’s (mostly) undisputed doom metal monarchs. It’s perhaps a little strange, therefore, to see them somewhat switch their style up a little on ninth album Wizard Bloody Wizard. As the title suggests, this is the album in which the Wizard indulge most explicitly in full-on Black Sabbath worship. In fact, Wizard Bloody Wizard sounds almost upbeat when compared to the band’s back catalogue, as it largely abandons the psychedelic wall of impenetrable fuzz that permeates their discography.
Some will lament such a loss, but after the gloriously dismal package of 2014’s Time To Die, it’s a change of pace that allows for a slightly less challenging sound. Wizard Bloody Wizard is the band’s least claustrophobic listen since their self-titled debut LP, drawing attention away from the psychedelic soundscapes but towards the lackadaisical, bluesy riffs. The stomp of lead single ‘See You In Hell’ packs a heavy, groovy punch, whilst the likes of ‘Necromania’ and ‘Wicked Caress’ bring the album’s heaviest moments, which are still a cut above many of their contemporaries. Elsewhere, the slightly more psychedelically-inclined meanderings of ‘Mourning Of The Magicians’ ensures the album goes out with a slow, lethargic bang that hints at the hazy atmospheres of days gone by without ever fully reverting back to a more sinister sonic palette.
This stylistic change alters the effect of Jus Oborn’s characteristic wail – which is foregrounded here, rather than reverberating up from the murky depths of the mix – but lyrically, he continues to drive home the band’s signature budget-horror shtick. “Goodbye, farewell, I’ll see you in hell” he cries on ‘Mourning Of The Magicians’, whilst ‘Necromania’ hints at the dark topic of necrophilia. It’s shock-value nihilism, but by now it’s little more than an Electric Wizard trope – more comforting in its familiarity than it is shocking in its irreverence.
Wizard Bloody Wizard manages to be the band’s least innovative LP to date and yet one of their most refreshing. The otherworldly, sinister epics of Dopethrone or Come My Fanatics are, unfortunately, not here in abundance, but it would be an out-and-out lie to say that there isn’t a lot of fun to be had with the latest instalment in the Leccy Wiz saga. The album largely sticks to what are, by now, Electric Wizard clichés (as the sleazy album cover of a woman with jam on her stomach will attest), but stripping back the eerie atmospheres and hostile sludgy soundscapes allows the monstrous riffs to hit hard, as they hark back to the heavy blues and ‘70s rock of Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath. Wizard Bloody Wizard won’t draw the goosebumps most will experience when first listening to Dopethrone, but it will draw more than a few sections of fervent head-nodding.
Wizard Bloody Wizard is out now on Spinefarm Records. Purchase here.
Words: George Parr