|Release||Time To Die|
|Release Date||September 30, 2014|
NOTE: This review was originally sourced from the Doodlehound blog. View it below in the External Links section.
It’s been a long one waiting and a hellacious journey leading up to it but the filthy dirge that is Electric Wizard’s eighth album, Time To Die, is upon us. Four years between records so hype was abound. Unfortunately a boatload of drama happened to rear its ugly head as well. The cliff notes version of the timeframe between Black Masses and Time To Die:
-In 2012 Simon Poole and Glenn Charman are revealed as the new rhythm section and “Legalise Drugs and Murder” is the single for the next album. Many interviews with hate-laden comments towards ex-members (To be fair, everyone really!) are abound the highlight being “Well, YOU try writing your eighth album!” in a very defensive manner, playing to the gimmick of being hateful, psychotic people.
- In a shocking turn of events Mark Greening rejoins the band! Recording is done, Charman eventually quits, Clayton Burgess takes the bass throne and things suddenly take a turn to be really promising.
- The album is recorded but out of nowhere Electric Wizard announces that after 19 years and being the longest running band on the label they cut ties with Rise Above, citing issues with sound qualities and “limited vinyl”. There’s also blame on the label for holding back this new album. Obviously not an amicable split as they travel onwards to Spinefarm.
- After a set at the Temples Festival Mark Greening leaves the band and Simon Poole rejoins. At first Mark shows a bit of class in closing but unfortunately that wouldn’t last. Again, not an amicable split only further publicized in a recent issue of Decibel Magazine.
So overall if you follow the band to a tee you’re in for a clusterfuck of bullshit. A situation where nobody wins. Not Mark, Jus, Liz, Lee or the guys who run Spinefarm. Certainly not the fans! But again the music is upon us so was it worth four years? Was it really drastically different? Is it surmounting the hype? Time To Die has its moments, its rehashed riffs (Though this reviewer is in no place to really comment with the bands I like. Plus, every band is guilty of this to some degree!) with a comfort zone that many bands are suddenly following in the upcoming oversaturation of the stoner and doom metal genres! It’s good, bad, ugly and not afraid to shy away from any of it! Let’s dig in, shall we?
The album opens right off with something sticking out like a sore thumb… Flowing water? It may reflect on the inside package of a river adorned with a jacket with the band’s logo stitched in and some of the lyrics to Funeralopolis. It’s strange but it evolves into a organ-laden jam and eventually a doomed march carried by Mark Greening’s drums before exploding into a groovy jam of filth atoned by buried lyrics of death, hatred and the occult! Right off the bat the production is nasty and abrasive but is not glaringly lo-fi retro grindhouse like the last two albums also recorded by Liam Watson. I'd imagine the additional production by Jus and mastering by James Plotkin was a factor.
The bluesy, straightforward title track and brutally sociopathic “I Am Nothing” follow, with the latter track abruptly cutting off at the end and some editing to attempt to “abridge” the two tracks. Whether it’s limitations of recording equipment (No track recorded since We Live has surpassed 12 minutes) or something else entirely, it sounds kind of cheap. The utterly bland ”I Am Nothing” could have easily been an album closer rather than the third track just on the atmosphere it gives off but I digress. We move on into the organ-leading jam instrumental of “Destroy Those Who Love God” that interlaces 20/20 devil worship samples. It’s a break from the dirge but a cautious breather at that.
The next track may well be the strongest song on the whole album (Well, in this doodlehound’s eyes anyways…). “Funeral Of Your Mind” is freakishly up-tempo and “fast” compared to the remainder of the record, filled with thunderous drumming and groovy yet twisted psych atmosphere. At first I was thinking of a darker Hawkwind but really this song could be the closest thing to something the original lineup would have written today (And in retrospect the only really good song!)! Following would be the straightforward pure-form doom of “We Love The Dead”, that really cool stop-start drum beat before the Black Mass riff in “SadioWitch” and album closers “Lucifer’s Slaves” and “Saturn Dethroned”. The former track features an introduction giving nod to Lord of This World and Saturn Dethroned features in its closing seconds a nod to the sample opening Dopethrone. I do wonder if the subtle references to Dopethrone are a nod to the hardships that led to their magnum opus and trying to reflect on that charm.
Time To Die is at it's core a complacent, uninspired album with not a horror movie reference in sight but plenty of basic uses of knives in the lyrics. Yes it will be noteworthy for all the insane controversy leading up to it yet only time will tell if it’ll be a stand-out in the band’s 20 year existence for that note or the music itself. The things that do stand-out like Greening’s vicious drumming and the inkling to just jam out benefit the record heavily. I'd only recommend this album if you have never listened to this band with a willingness to work your way back or have a colossal obsession for all things doom otherwise you aren't missing anything with this. Some of the bands that this era of Electric Wizard inspired (Salem's Pot; Windhand) do this style so much better nowadays. When I started listening at that time the band seemed somewhat unearthly and martian in sound and with the original lineup splitting the band seemed to show a more human and direct side from We Live onwards. Childish, of course but I feel strangely not too far off. Personally I got too engrossed in all the drama and in a way burned myself out a bit on a band I’ve loved for well over ten years.
It turned out they're only human after all.
But I’m sure another album will rekindle that hype in due time.