It’s no secret how much Dorset, England metalheads Electric Wizard worship Black Sabbath. There’s the surface level influence, like the slow beats, bottom-heavy riffs, and Satan-worshipping lyrics, and their name is a reference to two of their idol’s songs – “Electric Funeral” and “The Wizard”. The band has made their influence more obvious by paraphrasing a classic Black Sabbath album for their ninth album Wizard Bloody Wizard. But, rather than a pastiche, Electric Wizard has created the Black Sabbath album of my dreams.
Electric Wizard’s past releases are grimy slabs of doom, especially on their harrowing 2014 album, Time To Die. But Wizard Bloody Wizard is the band’s lightest and tightest work to date. Its six tracks run at a lean 42 minutes, has no sampled dialogue, and has the brightest production of any release to date. There’s no problem with their previous sound, but their new sound is a very welcome change.
Changes are apparent from the very first note of opener “See You In Hell”, the bluesiest song the band has ever done. The riff swings over a stomping beat, making for a massive groove that’s catchy its entire six minutes.
This may be Electric Wizard’s grooviest album yet, thanks to Clayton Burgess’ bass. It’s there deep underneath the chugging evil of “Necromania” and the demonically sensual “Wicked Caresses”. Combined with those mammoth riffs, heavy drums, and frontman Jus Oborn‘s sneers, the music propels listeners into bouts of headbanging delight, even across the 11 minute, glacial-paced closer “Mourning Of The Magicians”.
The brighter production has brought out something I never noticed about Electric Wizard before: how wickedly camp they are. Along with Black Sabbath, Oborn’s other obsession is old Hammer Horror films, whose horror is outweighed by their exaggerated theatricality. The lyrics are filled with cartoonish evil, with a particular favourite being “Drugs our religion” in “Hear The Sirens Scream”. They come to a head on the album’s shortest track at exactly three minutes and 13 seconds (a secret message?), “The Reaper”, where Oborn cackles like Vincent Price over horror-movie-organs.
Black Sabbath were always derided by critics for being unintelligent, but Electric Wizard show Wizard Bloody Wizard that metal isn’t stupid. In fact, their self-awareness and satirising of conservative fears show high intelligence, and their riffs make it a fun and rewarding listen.
Review Score: 8.8 out of 10.
Wizard Bloody Wizard is out now.