February 28, 2011

Music Review: Electric Wizard - Black Masses

While looking up some information on this band one thing became plainly apparent. That thing is me not being familiar with the band while everyone seems to be calling them one of their favorites. It never ceases to amaze me just how much music is out there and how easy it is to have heard of someone else's favorite band. You almost have to be OCD about music to even come close to listening to a lot of different artists, no to mention the countless genres and sub-genres. It is a daunting task that I have chosen to not even engage in. I will take them as the come, if they strike my fancy, all the better. In the case of Electric Wizard, I doubt I will be call in them a favorite, but there is no denying they are pretty fascinating.

Black Masses is the seventh album from England's Electric Wizard. It is an album that feels like a string throw back to the 1970's. From the fuzzy wall of guitar sounds to the effects on the vocals, you would half expect Ozzy and Tony Iommi to emerge from a fog covered stage. Well, maybe not, but the sound would be perfectly at home in the era.

Stoner/doom metal is how I see Electric Wizard described and I guess it is an accurate descriptor. Better than anything I would be able to come up with anyway. The songs are long, open, dirges that travel a fuzzy expanse of darkened highway. They move along at their own pace, unperturbed by outside influences. Heavy, sludgy walls of fuzz on the move. Groove and go. Press play and turn out the lights, just don't blame me for whatever visions pass through your mind.

I will not say this is a great album, I am not really sure that it is. I will say that it is an intriguing one and well worth spending a little time with. It is not the sort of music that will invoke a pit frenzy or any type of actual dancing, but I can see it being combined with some sort of gonzo light show with a crowd swaying in a 1960's fashion. It is "sway metal." I rather like that term, it is not a very good descriptor for the music, but listen to it and tell me you don't agree.

The production of Black Masses is very raw. It is dirty, grimy, perhaps even sleazy. And you know what? It is perfect for this style. This is music you don't want to be cleaned up or processed through Pro Tools. You want this to have that analog feel, free of digital trappings and tamperings. Let the raw fuzzed tone speak for itself. You will either like it or you won't. Just sit back and take that fuzz road down whatever dark paths it leads you.

On another note, I think these guys would make an interesting tour with Ghost. They are another band whose sound throws back to the 1970's, but in a more rock oriented fashion. I suspect they would make for an intriguing evening of throwback sound modern acts that have a style all their own.


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