Electric Wizard – Black Masses

By Gruesome Greg

It took over a month for this one to appear on the shelves in Toronto—and even longer for a review to appear on this site, but I must digress, as I only bought the damn thing a few days ago. Anyways, if you’re expecting Dopethrone II, look elsewhere, as the band has definitely moved on. (C’mon man, it’s been 11 years now…) The psychedelic sounds that pervaded their last couple efforts are clearly at work here, and this is apparent from the get-go.

The catchy, swirling psychy opener “Black Mass” does get real slow around the five-minute mark—but then it’s all over, awash in a sea of feedback that lasts a tad too long for an opening track (then again, this is the Wizard we’re talking about…).

I gotta say, I can’t stand vocal effects nine times outta ten, and even when it’s Jus Oborn, as on “Venus in Furs,” it still sounds like ass to me. He tones it down a bit on “The Nightchild,” a slow, creepy doom number, with some haunting guitar tones. It creeps on past the seven-minute mark with the refrain “Under the Black Sun…” leading the way into darkness (or at least a fade out). “Patterns of Evil” offers more of the same, with a tasty chorus riff.

“Satyr IX” starts off nice and slow, more of an old-school sound, but run through a new effects board. Can’t say it picks up the pace at all, really—and that’s A-OK with me. “Turnoffyourmind” turns on the vocal effects again, though it’s got a solid thumper of a riff to go with ’em. A tad too much reverb in the guitar solo as well, although it does create that “dark, occult sound,” I suppose. Speaking of dark, occult sounds, album-closer “Crypt of Drugula” lays on the creep factor with its mile-a-decade rumble punctuated by cinematic effects. This is how you end an album in style…

While I can’t say I was blown away at first listen, there is no question that this is a good record, and despite some cringe-inducing moments, overall it gets my head nodding slowly in approval.

(Rise Above/Metal Blade)

Sean is the founder/publisher of Hellbound.ca; he has also written about metal for Exclaim!, Metal Maniacs, Roadburn, Unrestrained! and Vice.