ELECTRIC WIZARD is unquestionably one of modern doom’s most influential acts. Decades after its inception, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the Dorset, England-based band has been morphing into a stripped-down psychedelic and horror-fueled seventies-styled rock band. The seeds were planted with 2007’s “Witchcult Today”. In spite of this increasingly obvious direction, 2014’s “Time to Die” looked back to the pages of ELECTRIC WIZARD‘s grimy doom ‘n’ gloom of the band’s infancy. “Time to Die”, in retrospect, appears to be have been a brief detour back home considering that “Wizard Bloody Wizard” finds the group making its way back on the path toward stripped down rock ‘n’ roll, viewed through the kaleidoscope and misty haze of nihilistic, filthy sludge, of course.
With “Wizard Bloody Wizard”, ELECTRIC WIZARD doesn’t beat around the bush. Opener “See You in Hell” is a gritty rocker that seems delivered directly from the garage straight into your eardrums. The band retains the jam room quality throughout, although it meanders less than it has in the past. The Brits recorded the release, the group’s ninth effort overall, at its own studio, Satyr IX Recording Studio. The production grasps the bare-bones essence of the material by refraining from over polishing anything or filtering guitars through endless rounds of effects.
Evolution for a band like ELECTRIC WIZARD was inevitable. Failure would have been certain if it had attempted to recreate 2000’s “Dopethrone” repeatedly. However, ELECTRIC WIZARD hasn’t forsaken its doom metal origins entirely. Just look to the way the group shamelessly ripped off BLACK SABBATH in naming this release. They are still true to the ugly spirit of apathy, misery, horror and drugs. The organ driven foundation of “The Reaper” marries the simmering riff and beat that never reaches a boiling point but do emit a dreamlike mist of psychedelic ambience, not unlike album closer “Mourning of the Magicians”. “Wicked Caresses”, meanwhile, stands out as a highlight with its bridge between the twisted malevolence and doom rumble of the band’s younger identity to the psych rock territory its now so inclined toward.
As catchy as the aforementioned two songs are, ELECTRIC WIZARD simply no longer demands your attention like it once did. At one point, there was at once greater memorability and a charming madness involved. Sure, frontman Jus Oborn has become a much more seasoned songsmith, but the WIZARD used to be so endearing because it felt like the band wanted to take over the world or die trying. There’s almost a sense that ELECTRIC WIZARD is at a crossroads and in the midst of an even more pronounced transition ahead. In the final track Oborn is perhaps foreshadowing this as he spits out the line, “Goodbye. Farewell. I’ll see you in hell.” (Ironically enough, the latter part of the line isn’t uttered even once in the opening song of the same name.)
Whatever the case may be, “Wizard Bloody Wizard” doesn’t hold a candle to the band’s monumental opus “Dopethrone”, one of contemporary doom metal’s keystone releases. The unit hasn’t released truly memorable material for the better part of the last 15 years, outside of 2007’s “Witchcult Today”. But with that said, it hasn’t been responsible for any true duds either. “Wizard Bloody Wizard” is a good release, the best since “Witchcult Today”, it’s just a far cry from the band’s exceptional material from many years ago.