The bringers of colossally heavy doom metal that are ELECTRIC WIZARD have returned on TIME TO DIE (Spinefarm Records), the British band’s eighth studio album and their first full-length release since 2010. Electric Wizard have never really been known for change or technicality, and this latest release probably won’t alter that perception. Like all of their albums, it’s an hour of sheer indulgence in the rapturous trance states induced by low-tuned, fuzzed-out, grooving, downstroked power chords repeated over and over again until your head explodes, accompanied by the bluntest rhythms and Satan, murder and drug themed lyrics. It can be hard to tell how much of the band’s approach is meant to be tongue-in-cheek and how much is ritualistic dedication to the almighty riff, but it’s probably a bit of both, a labor of love for all things heavy and misanthropic, completely aware that their sound will probably be too simple or obvious in its influences for some.
Album opener “Incense for the Damned” starts off with the obligatory sample of a news report on the murder of Gary Lauwers in 1984, but doesn’t really start until a martial beat comes in, giving way to both guitarists playing synchronized power chords that chug up and down the minor scale. This pretty much defines the entire 10+ minute song, which breaks down into some slow doom about halfway through before building back into the refrain and Oborn’s wah-wahed-out and distant sounding guitar solo. The fifth track, “Funeral of Your Mind,” is one of the catchiest head-nodder on the album, and definitely the most upbeat. It kicks off with a Black Sabbath-y riff, occasionally jumping up a couple half-steps for added energy, and building tension until it hits the five ascending then heavily plunging power chords that repeat throughout the song’s second half.
For all their grim obsessions, Electric Wizard have a playful sound that turns their simple but sassy riffage into a strength. They’ll groove on the same two fuzz-drenched chords for minutes with a don’t-give-a-fuck sort of attitude that will hypnotize your soul and recruit it into their timeless procession of doom. They do it consistently and they do it well. While they may have taken this simplicity a little too far on 2010’s Black Masses, which felt contrived at points, Time to Die captures the band in the midst of inspiration again. It’s not Dopethrone or Witchcult Today, but it’s an awesome album from one of doom metal’s most consistent acts.