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Electric Wizard: Time To Die

Things we learned from the new album by Dorset’s premier dope-smoking doom-metal overlords

Life in Electric Wizard appears to be an endless Groundhog Day of smoking weed, rewatching early 1970s Hammer Horror movies and cranking out sludge-metal heaviosity at high volume. Forever.

The Wizard do not step far outside their retro-metal comfort zone on Time To Die. Tracks like Incense for the Damned and Destroy Those Who Love God rework familiar themes, super-heavy stoner-sludge dirges punctuated with ironic clips from US news bulletins about heavy rock’s links to Satanism. But in fairness, we should know what to expect from a band named after two Black Sabbath songs: shuddering mudslide riffs, creepy occult lyrics and a thick marijuana fug of vintage valve-amp fuzz.

** All the same, there are a few agreeably experimental noises on Time To Die.**

Wizard founder Jus Oburn and his ever-shifting line-up explore their wilder avant-metal side more than usual here, spicing up unruly tracks like I Am Nothing, We Love The Dead and Funerals of Your Mind with molten eruptions of atonal noise-rock that owe more to Sonic Youth than Sabbath. At their sense-pummelling best, the Wizard can still leave you spurting blood from every orifice.

After a rancorous split from the Rise Above label, Electric Wizard have finally decided to go it alone.

Now on their own Witchfinder label, the Wizard spent 19 years on Rise Above, longer than any other signing. But the split was messy. In the thick of bitter legal wrangles last year, Oburn told one interviewer “Rise Above Records have a lawyer to stop us releasing records or even using our name. Of course we are fighting…but with the law it is all money, money, money.”

Electric Wizard have had more drummers than Spinal Tap.

Time to Die is the first Wizard album to feature original drummer Mark Greening since Let Us Prey in 2002. Greening left in 2003 to form Ramesses, rejoined the band in 2012, then left again. Another ex member, Simon Poole, has filled his stool. But the Wizard are not on such good terms with Greening’s original replacement, Justin Greaves, who left the band acrimoniously in 2006. “I would piss on his grave,” Oburn claimed recently.

Despite hailing from the small, sleepy Dorset backwater of Wimborne, Electric Wizard are far from being the town’s most famous rock exports.

Indeed not. Robert Fripp of King Crimson was born here, as was veteran folk-rock icon Al Stewart. Novelist Thomas Hardy and Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, are also former residents. There must be something in the West Country water.

Stephen Dalton has been writing about all things rock for more than 30 years, starting in the late Eighties at the New Musical Express (RIP) when it was still an annoyingly pompous analogue weekly paper printed on dead trees and sold in actual physical shops. For the last decade or so he has been a regular contributor to Classic Rock magazine. He has also written about music and film for Uncut, Vox, Prog, The Quietus, Electronic Sound, Rolling Stone, The Times, The London Evening Standard, Wallpaper, The Film Verdict, Sight and Sound, The Hollywood Reporter and others, including some even more disreputable publications.