Saturday, 8 December 2012

Electric Wizard - S/T

No Hope, No Future, No Fuckin' Job

Electric Wizard's debut is often cast aside as a mere Sabbath clone. While doom metal certainly has it's fair share of Sabbath worship, it would be unfair to disregard this as a half-baked Sabbath duplicate. While the Sabbath influence is certainly there, just as it is on countless other doom records, Electric Wizard add their own flavour to a traditional sound. Calling this a Sabbath clone is just as silly as calling the majority of modern black metal no more than Burzum and Darkthrone clones (or saying that Autumn Aurora is no more than a Filosofem rip off). It has been often asserted that with their debut, Electric Wizard has not yet found their sound. This is only half true at best. While they do have their signature sound, it manifests itself in a more traditional setting the first time around. Their drugged-out vibe and slow infectious riffs are there, they just aren't pushed to the extremes that they would be in subsequent records. This isn't quite as heavy and sludgy as they would later become. Make no mistake, this still is damn heavy for a more traditional doom sound.

This album is pretty straightforward stoner doom, while they have their own unique subtleties, this certainly isn't far from what you'd expect when the name of the genre is mentioned. It should be kept in mind, however, that at this point the genre wasn't as well established as one might think. Sure, Sabbath had certain songs that exemplified the stoner doom sound back in the seventies, but it was only in the 90s that the stoner strand of doom started to really blossom as a sub-genre. Many people seem to forget how influential this album is for the time it came out. Every little subtlety on this album exemplifies a laid-back stoner vibe. This sound has become somewhat of an archetype for the genre. While taking some queues from  Iommi's riffcraft, they take a preexisting sound and adapt it into something new. 

This album is much more accessible and straightforward than any of their other records. While this does feature some relatively long songs, the songwriting remains to the point. These songs are catchy without coming off as overtly melodic. "Black Butterfly" is a prime example of the heights their songwriting can reach. Definitely the best track of the album, this song is one of the most memorable in Electric Wizard's discography. Although the album is almost always slow, a faster section is thrown into this song. This provides an interesting shift in dynamics and is quite a surprise upon first listen. "Stone Magnet" is also a track that stands out, featuring top notch songwriting and general all around badassery, something that is magnified greatly by the song's lyrics:

"Looking all around, the world's a dream
Traveling to places that I have never seen
High up here is where I'm really free
Listen people, you've got to free the weed

Yeah, you knew the deal
You knew I would make you feel
But look around you, what you got
No hope, no future, no fuckin' job"

 The riffs are simple, but do much more than merely get the job done. They're the type of riffs that refuse to leave your skull after the album's duration has come to an end. The riffs have a nice groove to them, which is an occurrence that remains throughout the album. The solos aren't really that much a far cry from what they are on later albums. Spaced out and bluesy,  they often start slow and crescendo to lightning fast pull ons and pull offs. This release does have occasional tinges psychedelia, with "Mountains of Mars" being the most prominent example of this. Otherworldly free-floating psychedelia is rooted by deep bass notes. This is something to drift off to in a daze. 

Often looked over as that Sabbath worship album they did before they found their sound, this record rarely gets the respect it deserves. The riffs are 100% killer, the songwriting is great and the overall vibe is something worth hearing. It's one of those albums you can really tune out to. This is much more than just a decent starting point for the band, it successfully achieves everything it set out to do. Sure, it isn't as experimental or crushing as some of their later works, but this album does a spectacular job at creating an outstanding sound in a more traditional framework.

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