Wizard Bloody Wizard is Dorset doom-mongers Electric Wizard’s ninth studio album, and at this point it’s worth remembering that Black Sabbath’s ninth album was coming off the back of two largely forgettable records, culminating in the woefully unbalanced Never Say Die and the sacking of Ozzy. That ninth album, though, the astounding Heaven And Hell, and the recruitment of one Ronnie James Dio, signalled the start of a stellar second act in Sabbath’s career.
The same, however, cannot be said for Electric Wizard. After some largely middle-of-the-road LPs – 2007’s Witchcult Today and 2010’s Black Masses – the band returned in 2014 with original drummer Mark Greening and released the brilliant Time To Die, their best album since 2000’s genre-classic Dopethrone. But it couldn’t last. Mark soon departed, again, and Wizard Bloody Wizard is amongst the blandest of their canon. In the run-up to release, guitarist/vocalist Jus Oborn has spoken of his desire to create a record that harks back to the stripped-down, heavy blues of the likes of Zeppelin and Blue Cheer, and the results are largely as alarming as that sounds.
From the very first second, as a nasally, plodding riff introduces opener See You In Hell – which continues to stutter along through that overly familiar riff – it becomes clear this is a very different Wizard album, stripped of much of the viscous, impenetrably fuzzed guitar tone and claustrophobic atmosphere that has become their trademark. Later, Hear The Sirens Scream, which, lyrically at least, sees Jus masterfully indulge in more usual lasciviously red light-worthy and video nasty-baiting Wizard fare (although his cleaner, and far more prominent vocal wails are an uncomfortable listen), as he cycles through more doom-by-numbers.
Closer, the lengthy Mourning Of The Magicians, is a near highlight, its lengthy, lysergic stomp getting as close to psychedelic as anything preceding it. You can’t expect every LP to be Dopethrone #2, but this isn’t even close.