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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Album Review: Electric Wizard - Time To Die

With four years having passed since the release of the monstrous Black Mass, there's a few landmarks to clear up before we gleefully delve into their disturbingly-titled eighth studio effort, Time To Die. This marks their first release on the excellent Spinefarm record label after a lifetime spent building a presence on Rise Above, and with a running time of 65 minutes it's also their longest to date.

Otherwise, it appears to be business as usual. There is still layer upon layer of dense sludge, wall to wall reverb, and that bruising, blackened tone they carry so well. Their standard thematic barracking still rises to the fore and their repeating riffs are jammed into oblivion. On the face of it Time To Die is one foul, gnarly and steady descent into the jaws of death.

The album comes bookended with the soothing sounds of a babbling brook and all seems well until the slow-wind up of those splattering guitars firing out with a dark purpose. Immediately, the repeating motif is established as snippets from news reports which drive home the band's modus operandus - it's a gimmick inspired by a combination of the tape-trading, underground music scene and the associated scare-mongering documentaries of Jus Osborn's youth. Very rapidly, the pit begins to open and Electric Wizard's sludge-packing, doom-and-gloom begins to pour out. Optimists should find some solace in the early lyric "We wanna get high before we die" - doesn't everybody, at least on some level?

You'd think the the evil contained in the words of the title-track might be the album's nadir. "Wake up baby, it's time to die" certainly strikes a chord as it describes the vindictive wish for your soulmate to be lucid when the time comes. However, just when you think the Wiz can't sink lower they begin to churn out the filthy noise-blender of a track, "I Am Nothing". Being force-fed this murderous distortion and blistered overdrive truly does invoke the emotions of being inside the shittiest of sewers. Vomiting from this sonic chaos frontman Jus conjures his most hangdog delivery, each syllable potent with the whiff of remorse and self-pity. The track climaxes in nothing less than a slowly dissolving explosion of thick noisome brain matter - chaotic, psychotic and gloriously hypnotic.

This first half-hour, covering just three tracks, leaves the band free to make briefer, less-intense explorations into the subject. There's the joy of hearing a small child gleefully exclaim "Almighty Satan, destroy those who love god", a chance to bliss out to the deconstructed freak-out "Funeral Of Your Mind", to trap yourself inside the monotonous crush of "We Love The Dead", or to rock out to the dual head-bobbing "SadioWitch" and "Lucifer's Slaves".

Dramatic, fertile and intensively personal, Time To Die sees Electric Wizard digging deep into their psyches to extract something so morbid as to feel obscene. Perhaps the album's final intonation should be translated as a warning - "When you get into these groups there is only a couple of ways you can get out... one is death, the other is mental institutions or, third, you can't get out".

Also online @ Scratch The Surface Webzine = http://www.scratchthesurface-webzine.com/2014/10/electric-wizard-time-to-die-review.html
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