Electric Wizard: Black Masses Review

What sounds could emanate from a room filled with spirituality and thick weed smoke? Chances are, it would sound like Black Masses.

Iann Robinsonby Iann Robinson

Electric Wizard: Black Masses Review

Electric Wizard
Black Masses
Metal Blade Records

There is a dark place, a place where grooves run free and the thicker the fuzzed out tones are, the better it is for all of us. In that place Electric Wizard and their new album (released
already in Europe, hitting the states January 18th) Black Masses provide the theme music in what can only be called a triumphant album from the black cauldron of metal. When I first heard the Black Masses I began to think of monks, funky, fucked up, weeded out monks who had some sick things rattling through their heads. What would that sound like? What sounds could emanate from a room filled with spirituality and thick weed smoke? I’d venture a guess it would sound like Black Masses.

So many bands claim to be heavy and really all they do is tune down, play crunch metal riffs and scream. Electric Wizard are black scientists when it comes to the perfection of playing heavy. This is deep, dark, stinking, oozing music brimming with gigantic riffs, pants-shitting bass and pounding war drums. Even the vocals on Black Masses is a cry from another world, the sounds made from a dark closet, or that hole in the universe that appears right above your television when given enough mushrooms. Electric Wizard don’t just hit you with their heavy handed brand of rock n roll, the surround you with it. From the opening lick of the title track you’re held hostage, forced to swim through black tar but loving every minute of it.

As with so many truly great records, Black Masses is an album that demands to be listened to from start to finish. With each song averaging six to seven minutes, this is a massive slab of sonic destruction, one that doesn’t rely on being broken up into easily digestible songs. Not that there aren’t great tunes throughout the album, they just really come together into something much more special when allowed to play through until the end. Musically Electric Wizard owe a great debt to everything from Black Sabbath to Monster Magnet to sixties psychedelic music.  Drawing from such a varied spring of influences, Electric Wizard drink it all in but never imitate. It’s more that they mold those things into their own unique blend of fuzz-drenched rock.

What really sticks out here is how well Black Masses is crafted, how each little part stitches into the next in order to clarify the bigger picture. Up front this album may seem like straight stonerrock, but listen carefully and you’ll pick up some great songwriting being laid down. Imagine a musical version of the multi-pixel picture that if you stare at long enough a ship or a bird appears. I also love that the noise elements sometimes get so loud the sheer cacophony of what’s being played becomes slightly painful to listen to. Some of the elements that Electric Wizard is laying down rub against each other but they all work for the collective whole of the record. These guys don’t care if it all comes across pleasant for you, they have a mission and that’s all they care about. Black Masses is an album that not only proves how great Electric Wizard are but also shows us critics that not all fuzzy music is just repackaged Black Sabbath.