Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Best to Worst: Electric Wizard

Dopethrone (2000)

The pinnacle, without a doubt. Dopethrone is the Wizard at their fuzziest best. EW took everything that Sabbath and Sleep had previously done, covered it in dirt and resurrected it beneath a neon twilight shrouded in dope-smoke.

Each song here has its own identity. Nothing ever gets monotonous, even when plodding along at a zombie's pace. This was the band at the height of their powers.

We Live (2004)

Even though the original trio of Greening, Oborn and Bagshaw had by this time disbanded, We Live, in my own humble opinion, is just about as mighty as the band's penultimate expression, Dopethrone. If anything, the songs here are actually HEAVIER! Opener 'Eko Eko Azarak' is drenched in evil and hypnotic psychedelia and is the perfect opener to this behemoth of an album. Easily the band's "doomiest".

Supercoven (1998)

The song Supercoven is easily among the greatest tracks written by the Wizard. If it weren't for the fact that this is only an 'ep', Supercoven may have been higher on the list. Nevertheless, this was the perfect lead-in for the band's superior Dopethrone LP.

Time to Die (2014)

After some thought I decided to give this a higher ranking than Come My Fanatics which, while being a thoroughly enjoyable album, can get on the monotonous side of things at times. Time to Die, however, is stylistically divvied up enough to keep one's interest straight through. It's also has a bit of a "greatest hits" feel to it as it seems to compile all eras of the Wizard's career. Most importantly, it brings back the fuzzy warmth of the band's late '90's material along with a healthy dose of morbid psychedelia. Future classic, I'm sure.

Come My Fanatics (1997)

As good as this album is I also can't shake the notion that it is merely a primer for what's to come (Dopethrone). Don't get me wrong, now, there are some straight classic tracks here (Doomantia, Ivixor B/Phase Inducer, Wizard in Black, etc..) yet I do not feel that the band had quite mastered their sound as there are many times here where the fuzz seems to overtake the riffage and things begin to get a bit blurry. Despite its flaws, however, this is without a doubt one of the band's best.

Let Us Prey (2002)

Perhaps the band were simply taxed and had exhausted their creative juices by the time the writing process for this album came 'round as the majority of it sounds a bit tired. Master of Alchemy, however, is alone worth the price of admission and without question one of the band's best songs. Mother of Serpents (found on the digi re-release) is also one of my favorite Wizard tracks with its nod to early, pre-Darkside era Floyd.

Not a terrible album but for the Wizard's standards you can tell they were slippin' a bit.

Witchcult Today (2007)

Though We Live was the first album to come out after the split of the initial trio of musicians that brought us Come My Fanatics and Dopethrone, this is the album, in my opinion, where the real change in sound began to take form. Although I dig a few of the tracks here, particularly Torquemada '71, I can't say that I'm terribly fond of this album, either.

Witchcult saw the band going in a more, dare I say "polished" direction what with a clearer sound and almost painfully catchier songs. The band was shedding much of the fuzz and grime of old and even though nobody really seemed to notice I could tell right away that something was amiss.

Black Masses (2010)

Black Masses is the crustier sibling of Witchcult Today. The simpler more "mainstream" sounding tracks are still there though this time they all seem to be covered in shit. I mean that in the best way possible!

There are actually a few more tracks on here that I like in comparison to Witchcult even though I somehow prefer that album over this. Don't ask.

Black Masses also continues the tradition of rehashing riffs that began on Witchcult.

Electric Wizard (1995)

Easily the most "traditional" sounding doom album put out by the Wizard. I'm not a big fan of the guitar sound as I've always preferred the band's fuzzier tone. For me, Mountains of Mars is the standout track here with its morbid psychedelia getting into my head and filling it with images of decades past, desert tapestries and the smell of dopesmoke.

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