Electric Wizard- Black Masses

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Monday, November 8, 2010

Over the past six years or so, doom/stoner metal band Electric Wizard has been making changes to their established sound from album to album. One of the most noticeable differences is that their overall sound has been getting a bit cleaner and the tempos have gotten a little faster. This was partially true on 2007’s Witchcult Today and is even truer on this year’s Black Masses which finds the group offering some of their most traditional doom/rock ‘n roll arrangements to date. And yet, despite the fact that the tempos are a bit faster and there isn’t always the same level of murkiness present Electric Wizard has still managed to produce an album that is catchy as hell and will keep their fans happy.

While there are some slower moments such as “Satyr IX”, long time fans might be surprised to find that this isn’t actually the norm on Black Masses. The instrumentalists have upped the tempo on quite a few of the songs, giving them a slightly more traditional feel in comparison to Electric Wizard’s earlier material. However, despite the fact that the new songs aren’t slow as molasses this doesn’t mean that the band has lost their hazy, fuzzed out style. The riffs may have a greater sense of urgency than before, but they still have addictive fuzzy melodies that create a wall of sound and will keep you coming back for more. The production values also seem a bit cleaner, but when I say this I’m referring to the guitar tone as the other instruments are still buried under a murky wall of sound. Overall, Electric Wizard still manages to impress and there are a few songs on here that could become new favorites for quite a few people.

One of the biggest changes I’ve noticed over the past two Electric Wizard albums would have to be the clarity of the vocals. Not only has Jus Oborn adopted a slightly more melodic and higher pitched vocal style when compared to the group’s early material, but his vocals often stand above the instrumentals and are a lot easier to make out than before. While I realize opinions have been divided on this, I feel that it has benefited the band as it has made listeners pay more attention to the lyrical content. In addition to this, Oborn still has the same amount of intensity as he did before, he just presents it in a different way. Electric Wizard’s vocal delivery may have changed, but on Black Masses it really takes center stage and stands out.

Let’s face it, Dopethrone came out ten years ago and this version of Electric Wizard isn’t going to just repeat what was on that album. Despite the slightly cleaner sound and faster tempos, this band is still doing what they do best and have some truly addictive riffs that are among the best the genre has to offer. I personally felt that Black Masses was even better than Witchcult Today, and it is definitely a good representation of a band that can stay true to their original sound but also make some changes and evolve over the years.


Full Disclosure: Review copy provided by Rise Above Records

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