CD Review: “Wizard Bloody Wizard” by Electric Wizard

Electric Wizard keep the doom wheel rolling on its ninth record Wizard Bloody Wizard. Six songs of bluesy sludge wrapped in psychedelia, the occult and melancholy. The record’s initial single “See You In Hell” is a primordial blues stomp akin to Black Sabbath. Front man Jus Osborn’s signature dissonant vocals wail through like a drunken mage while bassist Clayton Burgess keeps the bottom end depressingly groovy. “Necromania” is heavy psychedelia with its fuzzy guitar effects and light drumming. The song’s haunting lyrical content bizarrely fits the musical mood as though we are witnessing a satanic ritual in London circa 1969. The intro on “Wicked Caresses” perfectly creates the haunting mood on this track with pounding drums and minor guitar chords. This track moves and grooves thanks largely to Simon Poole’s drumming. Album closer “Mourning Of The Magicians” is the album’s magnum opus. An 11 minute elegy with a driving bass line that conjures a picture of people marching in a funeral procession. Jus’s despondent vocals capture the downcast aura on this track. It is beautiful in its sadness and relishes in its finality, especially with the line “here’s the darkness/ that you always wanted.”

Many point to Electric Wizard’s 2000 release Dopethrone as the band’s finest work and it is hard to disagree. However, Wizard Bloody Wizard shows the band is still capable of producing ear deafening doom metal 24 years since its formation. There is a looming darkness on his record even during its light moments which comes through in the muddled fuzz and feedback. Yes, the production is muddy, but not amateur or poor. It harkens to the production of Sixties and Seventies hard rock and metal records, only with a modern polish. The major weakness is the tinny sound of the guitar leads. There is some great lead guitar work on Wizard, unfortunately it is sometimes drowned out by the rhythm guitar and bass.

Wizard Bloody Wizard gets its point across in six songs which is Electric Wizard do sludge metal like no one else. Sure, this record is not up to par with the band’s earlier releases but that means little in the long run. The band’s heaviness has not dulled and the epic “Mourning Of The Magicians” is one of the band’s best songs. Pick this record up if you love the band or need some doom to crush your ear drums.

Check out the band’s website here: http://www.electricfuckinwizard.com/

‘Black Smoke Rising’ EP by Greta Van Fleet

In the village of Frankenmuth, Michigan, just North of Detroit, four young men calling themselves Greta Van Fleet are re-imagining the British Invasion.  Not in the sense of Paul Revere (or Sybil Ludington, if you’d prefer), but the British Invasion of the 1960s, which saw Englishmen re-imagining American blues in their own ways.  Wouldn’t it be fun, they thought, if it were re-imagined once more, reinvigorating the sounds they love with the youth of modern day?  These three brothers – two of them twins – and their best friend are sending chills through those that hear them, rocketing up to #1 on the iTunes American and Canadian Rock Chart with their 4-song debut EP, Black Smoke Rising, and already selling out most of the dates on their upcoming headlining tour.

The name Greta Van Fleet, in honor of a Frankenmuth town elder, is just one of the unique aspects of this quartet.  While they bring a sound which has roots firmly planted in a half-century long passed, it is far from a throwback.  These musicians bring their individual personalities to the table, harnessing a vast array of inspirations, from the Motown-enthused bassist all the way to the World Music-loving vocalist.  As the influences swirl together, they form a style that is familiar, but fresh.  I will not have been the first to liken their sound to early Zeppelin, and front man Josh Kiszka’s voice bears a striking resemblance to that of Robert Plant’s, to the point of the two occasionally being indistinguishable.  This is especially evident during an emotion-filled cry at the peak of Jake Kiszka’s guitar solo in “Safari Song,” and still again as the opening lines of “Flower Power” cascade through the speakers.  Yet, by the time the EP arrives at its final track, it’s very clear that these young men are brewing up their own creations, not attempting to resell music of days-gone-by.  If I had to single out one song as my favorite, it would be that final, self-titled track, Black Smoke Rising, for the very reason that it sounds the newest.

Greta Van Fleet is a collection of young men with old souls.  Though two are barely old enough to vote, and the other two barely old enough to drink, they’ve grown wise on the records their parents shared with them, filling up on Cream, The Who, and Elvis.  The music they play is neither overly complex, nor is it underplayed, and their lyrics are warm, if not at times inspiring.  Anyone who can listen to this bunch and not be moved in some way, my condolences go to their family.  By all means, pick up this short sample of their material.  And if you’d like to do yourself one better, try to see them on tour.  Black Smoke Rising is but an appetizer of what Greta Van Fleet has in store, and they can’t wait to share it with you.

 

Buy Black Smoke Rising at: iTunes | Amazon

Catch them on tour near you, right now!

For more on Greta Van Fleet, visit:
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