Electric Wizard - Witchcult Today
Rise Above
Stoner Doom
8 songs (58'49")
Release year: 2007
Electric Wizard, Rise Above
Reviewed by Adam
Major event
Alright stoners of the world, put that bong down, sink into the nearest couch and turn the stereo up to 11, England's Electric Wizard are back with their sixth album, Witchcult Today, an album sure to satisfy fans of the band's unequaled form of distorted and massively heavy brand of doom.

For me, Electric Wizard, while still an upper echelon stoner doom band, have been unable to equal the near perfection they achieved with Come My Fanatics... and Dopethrone, their second and third albums, respectively, with their recent output. 2002's Let Us Prey was still an amazing album, heavy and a bit darker, but most fans felt that it was a bit of a let down, which is hard to avoid when the preceding album kicks as much ass as Dopethrone. Before the next album, 2004's We Live, original bassist Tim Bagshaw and original drummer Mark Greening left to form Ramesses. Their spots were filled by Rob Al-Issa and Justin Greaves, and second guitarist Liz Buckingham was also added to the roster. Coincidentally or not, We Live was a subpar effort in my opinion, devoid of the fuzzy ambience and charm of past albums while also suffering from a dip in riffing quality. Witchcult Today is the second go round for version 2.0 of Electric Wizard (save for the replacement of Greaves with Shaun Rutter), and, while still not on the same level as their two classic albums, is a huge step forward from We Live.

Unfortunately, things don't start off in grand fashion. The opening 8 minute title track just came off as uninspired to me, reminiscent of the general quality of tracks on We Live, not bad, but not real memorable either. A couple of items that keen listeners will notice almost immediately. First, the production, sadly, is a lot more toned down and vintage sounding, which is to be expected since Witchcult Today was recorded on pre-1970's equipment to give it an old school feel. A nice idea and not without its merits, but I can't help but miss the overwhelmingly heavy production of albums past. Second, Jus Oborn's vocals are much clearer and cleaner than the distant distorted yelps fans have grown accustomed to. Oddly, that change didn't really affect me at all. Both styles are adequate, and neither take away from Electric Wizard's greatest weapon, the gigantic riffs. Luckily, this is the prime attraction for the next two tracks. Dunwich takes off with an almost funky riff that caught me a bit off guard after the lackluster and slow opening track. It definitely has a style and flair that are hard to ignore, and Rutter's drumming is top notch, though barely audible due to the production. Satanic Rites of Drugula is more of a classic sound for the band. Slow, brooding, and most of all supremely heavy, it contains the finest main riff on the album, bar none. If you've been looking for a return to the Dopethrone or even Let Us Prey sound, you're in luck. From this point, the album just middles along, hardly swinging the pendulum either direction for me. After a 2 minute interlude, The Chosen Few falls in the same category as the opener. The riffing is decent, but fails to hold your attention for the 8 minute runtime, Torquemada '71 is a little better, but also not particularly memorable. Black Magic Rituals and Perversions is one of the more esoteric tracks Electric Wizard has ever concocted, rife with psychedelic ambience and a spaced out feel for the duration of its 11 minute runtime. It's also not bad, but drones on for too long in my opinion. The final track, Saturnine is a fine effort. The riffs are much more chunky sounding and catchy, and while it drags on a little too long as well, easily stands along side tracks 2 and 3 as the best Witchcult Today has to offer.

Amongst other things, Electric Wizard deserve credit for always delivering an album worth a listen. Their output ranges from good to amazing, with Witchcult Today falling somewhere in between for me. The two best tracks (Dunwich, Satanic Rites of Drugula) are easily the best two songs this new lineup, or the original for that matter, has recorded. Unfortunately, the album is pulled down by the production quality and some lackluster songwriting in parts. I understand the love of the vintage sound, but Electric Wizard needs crisp production to maximize the heaviness of their super-distorted approach. Perhaps they will realize this before the next outing and this new grouping will continue to improve their songwriting. At least one thing is for sure, it won't be any less than "good".
Killing Songs :
Dunwich, Satanic Rites of Drugula, Saturnine
Adam quoted 80 / 100
Other albums by Electric Wizard that we have reviewed:
Electric Wizard - Black Masses reviewed by Charles and quoted 83 / 100
Electric Wizard - Let Us Prey reviewed by Dylan and quoted 85 / 100
Electric Wizard - Dopethrone reviewed by Adam and quoted 94 / 100
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