Wednesday, January 19

Electric Wizard - Black Masses

Electric Wizard
Black Masses


Electric Wizard have achieved what most would consider to be a legendary status, especially within the doom/stoner scene, taking the blueprint the likes of Black Sabbath and Pentagram laid out and further injecting it with all sorts of occult, pseudo-Satanic and horror/exploitation film inspiration, which have all since become something of a trademark for Electric Wizard; it's a delightful match made in Hell, no doubt. :P The band's previous album - Witchcult Today - was quite a success, highlighting a different kind of energy on tracks like Dunwich and even Satanic Rites Of Drugula that we see more fully embraced and developed on the band's latest effort, Black Masses; aye, this sucker isn't all "doom and gloom," that's for sure.

The first thing one is likely to notice as the record starts making its debut spin (outside of the gigantic opening riff, anyway), is the absolutely filthy, dirty and grimy production; it reeks of reverb, feedback and fuzz, like entering into some kind of murky, foggy wasteland, and I must say that it is, by-and-large, the most appropriate and enchanting production job the band has utilized yet.  Frankly, even if the songs themselves were pretty lackluster or even downright awful, I think I'd still eat up this record for its ugly aesthetic alone; thankfully, however, the songs don't suck. ;)

The four opening pieces, in retrospect, are all crushers; thick riffs, churning atmospheres, possessed vocals and undeniable, hazy hooks.  I personally found The Nightchild, the disc's third track, to be especially potent, from its pounding rhythm to it's sprawling, closing chants of "under the black sun!" that are as inspiring as Amando De Ossorio's Blind Dead flicks themselves; it's nothing short of a masterpiece, without question.  Satyr IX and Crypt Of Drugula both serve as exercises in minimalism and ambiance through the stoner/doom filter and, despite not being something new to the Electric Wizard template, the bewitching, meditative vibe is still fully intact, thus compromising no quality whatsoever.

In a nutshell, Black Masses is certainly one of the better albums to be released in 2010 (despite its delayed US release, only finally hitting the shelves here yesterday) and, for my personal tastes, the best doom album altogether last year.  Electric Wizard continue to showcase a craftsmanship and mastery over the genre's aesthetics that most bands only dream of achieving, earning their rightful, undisputed place as one of the genre's best; indeed, it's time to turn off your mind and sink into a spiraling, psychedelic abyss of doom madness!

9 // 10

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