I’ve heard all sorts of mixed reviews of this new Electric Wizard record, though most tend to be favourable (perhaps none more so than this liquidized-teeth kid). But for me, even before I lay wax to the turntable, my opinion is coloured by the whole Greening vs. Wizard feud, which is readily apparent just by looking at the back cover. Notice how there’s a big black crescent above the band, where the drummer’s head should be? Furthermore, the double-LP version comes with a poster that also strategically edits Mark Greening out of the picture.* And yet, his presence on this record can’t be understated.
The very reason this sounds like somewhat of an old-school Wizard album, a return to form, if you will, is that Greening jammed out a bunch of these tracks with Jus Oborn during the writing process—or so he says. (FWIW, I tend to believe him.) Just like the whole “Bill Sabbath” debate turned many away from Black Sabbath’s 13, the No Greening No Wizard campaign has a few hundred folks boycotting the band, and this record in particular. But hey, I still bought the fuckin’ thing, didn’t I?
“Incense for the Damned” combines the band’s need for weed and their obsession with death, and actually contains the refrain “We wanna get high before we die.” Hey, so do I, but if I wanna to put on a song that sounds like Dopethrone for a little dopesmoking, I’m more likely to reach for the real thing. Suffice to say, the title track talks about a similar theme, just hold the weed. This downtuned, bass-heavy doomster hits like a hippie-fied Saint Vitus jam, dragged through the dirt and clouded by its bargain-basement production. That’s right, I said it: the knob-twiddling on this recording makes Joe Carducci sound like a mix-master by comparison… but hey, I get that they’re going for that downtrodden Dopethrone sound here.
“I Am Nothing” paints an equally-bleak picture, a droning, pounding piece with a mind-numbing chorus that even includes an “I kill you!” that would make Achmed the Dead Terrorist proud. Speaking of which, Side 2 actually ends with an instrumental entitled “Destroy Those Who Love God,” with soundclips from an 80s documentary about worshipping Satan ‘n shit. I guess if they didn’t stick that on there, it would only be a three-sided LP?
“Funeral of Your Mind” lays heavy on the stoner fuzz-wah for a trippy track that sounds sorta like a Hawkwind 45 played at 33 rpm instead. And it’s actually not about death or drugs, but rather mental illness. (Erm, close enough?) “We Love the Dead” brings back the album’s central theme, an Alice Cooperesque title for a darkened horror-doom elxir. For what it’s worth, Alice’s “I Love the Dead” was a piano ballad—this one is quite a bit heavier.
Side 4 could be subtitled SSS, for Satanic Schlock Side, with tunes like “SadioWitch” and “Lucifer’s Slaves.” The former actually contains the best trad-doom riff I’ve heard on the entire album, while the latter is yet another half-baked stoner ode to drugs ‘n death. I almost wish they didn’t include lyric sheets with this record, cuz these lines are so incredibly dense that it’s abundantly clear Jus Oborn has just about smoked away every last living brain cell at this point…
Alas, for me Time to Die isn’t as much a return to form for the Wizard any more than Death Magnetic was for Metallica. In case ya don’t dig what I’m sayin’, both albums are cases of bands that have completely lost the initial plot… only, I must admit, I’d still take the Wiz over today’s ‘Tallica by a long stretch. That said, if there’s No Greening, No Wizard, then I guess I’d better boycott their next record. (No big loss?)
*poster image added 17 Oct 2014 – Ed.