Monday, August 09, 2004

A triumphant return from everyone's favourite drug-abusing psychedelic doom merchants, if ever there was. Now, with an opening sentence like that, I guess we need some back-tracking and explanations. Electric Wizard, possibly the best UK ensemble of the last decade, have three previous releases out which you absolutely need: Come My Fanatics, Dopethrone and Let Us Prey, all primo examples of A-grade, seat-of-yer-pants, cannabis-soaked, fuzzed 'n' fucked-up, life-affirming rock 'n' roll of a near God-like order. Put that one in yer bong and smoke it!

Electric Wizard, it must be noted, are an aesthetically perfect unit: the music, the lyrics, the artwork, the interviews. The message is always thus: loathing, hatred, despair, disgust, anti-social behaviour and a bucketload of drugs. I don't personally recommend any of the above in the real world, but rock 'n' roll, let's face it, as much as I've tried to deny such a thing with my punk-lobotomised mind of the last 20-odd years, is a fantasy land where one can say and do things that no rational person would even consider in the larger outside world. If the 'Wizard wish to hate, loathe, despair and gobble drugs by the truckload, and hurt no-one else in the meantime, that's OK by me! Just keep on releasing a disc every couple of years and they can keep my name firmly attached to their fan base.

Hailed (by themselves, no less) as "the heaviest band in the Universe", I'd usually scoff at such claims, either for the sheer bogusness of exclaiming "heaviness" per se as a worthy trait in and of itself, or maybe because of the stupidly competitive nature of the statement (kinda like when D.R.I. and their ilk hailed themselves as "the fastest band in the world" back in the mid '80s... who fuggin' cares? Pushead??), but in this case I tip my hat and admit defeat: Electric Wizard are the heaviest band on Earth - musically, conceptually, aesthetically - they are indeed heavy as led, stoned to the bone, a goddamn crushing weight of noise that brings pleasure to the ears.

As a sonic concept, da 'Wizard can be a tough beast to pin down, but if I had to throw a few names around I'd say they're the missing link between Skullflower, Black Sabbath, Merzbow and Spacemen 3, with the raging misanthropy of a Boyd Rice thrown in for good measure. They've taken the essential doom styling pioneered by Sabbath, mixed it up with the over-amped attack of Skullflower, the space/psych-rock churn of Spacemen 3 and the trebly shards of noise of Mr. Akita and spat out a beast. Electric Wizard are a world of feedback, endless clouds of guitar distortion, layers of distorted, barely-comprehensible vocals and songs you never want to end. I'm sure there are many bands existing right now who'd gladly place such a description of themselves in a CV. Most said bands are worthless and none of them, bar maybe Acid Mothers, do it as well as Electric Wizard.

EW main man Jus Osbourne ditched his two previous band mates a year or so ago and has reassembled the band as a four-piece, even comprising of a female(!) on second guitar. With such a radical shift I approached with extreme caution, but such worrying was for naught: Osbourne and gang have kept the EW stamp intact. Six songs in 55 minutes, We Live is one of 2004's audio highlights. That's all you need to know.

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