Electric Wizard

June 4

Genuflecting at the altar of Black Sabbath, English doom-metal trio Electric Wizard delivers monumental, glacial riffs that roar with enough post-apocalyptic fury to earn it the title of the heaviest band in the land. Deep Purple's Roger Glover once said, "Heavy isn't about volume; it's about attitude," and he could just as well have been describing the bleak, pendulous grind of these de-tuned dirges. Dishing out relentless streams of fuzzed-out, primordial sludge, Electric Wizard celebrates the visceral thrill of pendulous, heart-bursting bass, repetitive riffs and enough deep, rhythmic chug to shake fillings loose. Next to this, White Zombie sounds like Jordan Knight.

Theirs is the world of B-movie horror schlock, medieval myth and gloomy paranoia. Suffused in a thick haze of marijuana and, one imagines, the dark, smoldering slag heaps of their dystopian vision, they laud their twin-spirations with lyrics such as, "Rise black amps tear the sky/Riff hewn altar wreathed in smoke and weed," on the 11-minute epic "I, Witchfinder," off 2000's Dopethrone. They even dedicate a song to the exploits of Conan the Barbarian, while the cover features the devil taking a particularly large bong hit, as other demons look on enviously.

With Dopethrone, the band took its first leap across the pond, making serious inroads in a place where others have failed. Their latest, Let Us Prey, maintains their momentum, while showing the band's willingness to branch out and experiment on what might be its most accessible album to date. Singer Jus Osborne still growls like a cat passing a kidney stone, but there are a few musical curveballs in with the eight-minute power-chord elegies. "We Are the Undead" picks up the pace with a thrash-metal tempo that'd fit right in on a Rollins Band album, while the supple "Night of the Shape" escapes without any grime at all, riding a persistent prog-rock beat over an ominous, building piano melody.

Like peers Sleep or a despondent, sleep-deprived Melvins, Electric Wizard unites the expansive atmospheric playing of Hawkwind, the rough-hewn garage of Blue Cheer and the bruising ballast of Sabbath into a hypnotic, sub-harmonic drone thick enough to smother you. Live, it's enough to make you consider a flak jacket, lest the chest-rattling bass crack a rib.

 
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