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on 31 March 2009
Experimentation has run out and formulated patterns are now the normality of Electric Wizard records. Whilst, in the past, records like `Dopethrone' set out changing the style of this British band, `Witchcult Today' sets about cementing the style that has been obtained since then. Whilst this isn't necessarily a negative stand point to take for Electric Wizard, `Witchcult Today' slips back in to a few old habits that make it not as successful as the previous effort `We Live', which is probably my favourite record from this Dorset act. However, in the minds of the public, Electric Wizard, with this effort and previous one's before it, are going from strength to strength and showcasing the awesome ability they have which makes them a leading stoner act in anyone's mind. Whilst the reputation of this band doesn't rest on this record, I considered this to be a significant make or break moment for the band because the last effort was their best, in my eyes, and would have been hard to follow. The beginnings of this record didn't give me much hope for a successor to the throne, but as it progresses, it builds into a fabulous outing and one worth purchasing for anyone looking to get into doom/stoner or just wishing to build their Electric Wizard collection.

As I said, the title track `Witchcult Today' didn't give me much hope for this record, but it would seem I judged it a little too early. The opening track doesn't showcase the abilities of any of the Electric Wizard members very well. Whilst it isn't the absolute lowlight in terms of terrible songs during their career, it isn't as strong as I was expecting, especially for an opening song to a new album! Whilst the patterns of previous records still exist, the sound has gone back to the days when Electric Wizard came across as lacklustre or even lazy. Of course, the stoner genre is meant to portray a sense of slow durability and gradual build ups through a more mellowed out sound, but the title track doesn't do that as well as some of the other songs do, like `Dunwich' which it's catchy drum patterns or `Satanic Rites Of Drugula' which is bound to have everyone singing along to the crazy lyrics and frequently catchy vocals for example. As one might be able to tell, the improvement on this record in comparison to the previous is mainly in the catchy nature of the songs. The two which have already been mentioned really stand out for there superb use of Jus' vocals, which are on top form after the opening song, and the thick layered guitar riffs which produce some of the best moments in Electric Wizard's glittering and illustrious career which has been filled to the brim with class moments and outrageously sing-a-long lyrics about all sorts of ideas and themes. Again, take `Dunwich' or `Satanic Rites Of Drugula' for example, the lyrics mean nothing to me, but still have me singing along because of the infectious nature of Jus' vocals and his brilliant portrayal of lyrical themes through his typical performance which is of the highest order.

"child of Dunwich rise
you have your fathers eyes
child of Dunwich rise
end the world that you despise."

"strung out on blood I hunt the streets at night
terror from the sky, in batform I strike
your naked body dragged to my darkened crypt
I tie you up, dope you up then your blood I sip

drugula..."

The lyrics are once again deceiving like they have been on previous records, which perhaps should make one expect this sort of tendency to deceive, but Electric Wizard are good at covering all bases. Whilst the guitar/vocal performance of Jus, the other guitar performance from Liz and the thick bass performance from Rob lead the audience to believe this is one doped up, loved up and upbeat record, the lyrics suggest something more rigid and sinister at the root of Electric Wizard's emotive music. The bass being the only instrumental to really portray the dark side of the music we have, although the double bass on the drums, in particular, does cement the sound the bass portrays, the lyrics do much to back them up in there hair raising, spine tingling showcase of epic proportions. On occasions, in the past, Electric Wizard haven't utilized the bass as well as they could have but not here. `Witchcult Today' showcases a wonderful amount of bass, particularly on songs like `The Chosen Few' which allows the bass to lead the show quite often. In terms of other performances the guitarists, Jus and Liz, stand out too. The performances, especially in terms of ground work in building up the atmospheres which vary throughout and the solo work produced on this record is really top notch. Again, take `The Chosen Few' as an example. The vocals, which are again catchy, don't have as much influence on this song. The thick distortion and dark solos really do well in taking the lead at the front where the vocals would normally do the work. One feels that on previous encounters, Electric Wizard would rely too heavily on Jus' vocal abilities, but `Witchcult Today' doesn't do that. Although this isn't the most experimental record of theirs, it does begin to allow the instrumental sections to play more of a role in leading the way, as opposed to only allowing the vocals to do this. Fans of the lengthy songs get there fill too, but only at the end of the album when Electric Wizard churn out to 10 minute plus epics. Not the best, but a good outing nevertheless.
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VINE VOICEon 31 December 2007
The superb English doomsters Electric Wizard are back with another monstrous slab of slow, brain bludgeoning riffs and grooves, fuzzed to the extreme and laced in sumptuous psychedelic overtones. Essentially, doom metal doesn't get any better than Electric Wizard. Past releases such as "Come My Fanatics" and their generally regarded peak, "Dopethrone" slay the rest of the doom/stoner metal field. While recent albums such as "Let Us Prey" and "We Live" are outstanding works when compared to the hundreds of lacking bands in the genre, the new line-up (new from "We Live") needed something to surge them back to old form. "Witchcult Today" does exactly that.

There is not a second wasted on "Witchcult Today". Like "Dopethrone" and "Come My Fanatics" I can just spin the album without ever wanting to skip. The one-two punch of the title track and "Dunwich" is blistering, with the title track flowing through various powerful grooves, riffs and an infectious chorus. "Dunwich" picks up the pace a little, again blasting through superb riffs and another excellent vocal melody in the chorus. Thankfully the band decided to keep this relatively up-tempo song at a reasonable pace, something disregarded in the last two albums with two overly fast tracks that just sounded messy and out of place. Slow brooding doom is what the band does best, and it doesn't get much better than "The Chosen Few". The songs menaces its way classic EW riffs and culminates with a haunting vocal harmony laced with one of the album's most infectious riffs. "Torquemada 71" reminds me of "We Hate You" from "Dopethrone" thanks to its simplicity and resulting accessibility. My favourite riff on the album and an equally compelling chorus hook makes this song the album's would-be lead single...would-be, if there was a popular chart for doom and stoner metal that is. After the atmospheric and often psychedelic flow of "Black Magic Rituals" the album closes with the excellent "Saturnine", which thunders through a catchy main hook and ends with an all-out jam full of fuzzy soloing, trancelike sounds and atmospherics and of course a driving groove to earth it all.

This is exactly the album I wanted Electric Wizard to make. Gone are the questionable experiments, replaced by unapologetic, classic EW. Fans of the band's old material should absolutely love this release. The doom masters are back!
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on 21 January 2008
2007's second surprise! An album which isn't at all disappointing! At last Electric Wizard have successfully followed up `Dopethrone' which to me still stands as the finest heavy metal album of this century so far. But `Witchcult Today' is perhaps the bands finest work after the mighty `Dopethrone'. Believe the hype, this doesn't actually disappoint..........I'm astonished!

So although `Let Us Prey' and `We Live' were far from bad albums they were a tad disappointing as `Dopethrone' had showed us that good old Ewizz could deliver some of the heaviest metal in all western Christendom. But with `Witchcult Today' we have the more refined sound akin to `Let Us Prey' and `We Live' but with all the oppressive doom-laden heaviness of `Dopethrone', a fine combination indeed. As with all Electric Wizard albums `Witchcult Today' has atmosphere which is rather good indeed especially when every band these days sounds exactly the same with too much compression and triggered drums, thankfully both these things are notable in absence and instead with have that splendid atmosphere invoking images of black masses, Hammer horror, sideburns, Watneys Party Seven and the Goat of Mendes.

I must say that in terms of song writing the quality on display here is excellent, so I may even forgive the 3 year gap between albums (lets have less of a wait next time please). All the actual songs here are very well done and non of it feels overlong or doom by numbers as some of `Let Us Prey' or `We Live'. `Witchcult Today' sets the tone for the whole album with those oh so `eavy riffs, plodding tempo's (let's black metal things up actually, so erm......funeral march of Cthulhu doom), layered guitars, wonderful atmosphere and a guitar tone so vintage it sounds like its dusty.....yeah why not. Anyway, an excellent song not too dissimilar to `Eko Eko Azarak' but a much better song. `Dunwich' is perhaps my personal favourite, very catchy (chorus' and all!) with some lovely spooky organ and of course occult Lovecraft inspired lyrics....could I perhaps draw comparisons with the fact that Electric Wizard have based a song on occult goings on in a small English town just as Black Sabbath did on `Headless Cross', well I think I just did. `Satanic Rites of Drugula' is based around a tale of a drug addicted Vampire, which is very silly but an enjoyable theme (along as they stay away from my screen plays about Jewish Dracula, we'll be fine) and musically it's a trip back to `Dopethrone' and its oppressive heaviness. `Raptus' is a bit of a filler, a pointless noise track but hardly offensive and you can always skip it. One could accuse `Witchcult Today' of being a bit linear as it essentially only does one thing; really heavy riffs and lyrical themes of the occult, I would complain but that's my idea of a good time. `The Chosen Few' (not to be confused with `A Chosen Few') continues this, really heavy riffs and singing about Satan.....again it's top notch, some bands can't get away with these long plodding songs but Electric Wizard do it with aplomb mesmerising it's listeners with that dusty, dusty guitar sound. `Torquemada 71' is perhaps the weakest song on this album, but still rather good with more catchy chorus' and mournful vocals. `Black Magic Rituals & Perversions' is very atmospheric but really needn't be 11 minutes long, but still a interesting listen (beats Opeth too! Ok I've fulfilled my Opeth basing quota). `Saturnine' is another favourite here and is justifiably long, its truly hypnotic honestly you don't even need to be on narcotics to go "whoa dude my hands are huge" when listening to this. A mesmerising way to finish the album and it's got a catchy chorus too, something which I've always admired about Electric Wizard no matter how heavy things get they retain memorable songs.

Musically this line up is Electric Wizard's best, unrestrained heaviness yet potential for more control than the original line up. Jus Oborn and Liz Buckingham still haven't learnt to sweep pick! (what's going on there Petrucci fans?) No, jokes aside there are some excellent riffs here and the layering of the guitars is tasteful and effective. Jus Oborn's vocals receive much more focus on this release and its perhaps his best performance yet keeping with the eerie and atmospheric vibe of the album. The drums and bass keep the groove loosely and imaginatively in places, exactly what's required. All round a job well done.

So what we have here is the album of the year (I've decided this is better albeit unsurprisingly completely different from the new Helloween). Whereas Reverend Bizarre (especially) and Candlemass released fairly dull albums, Electric Wizard have proved once again that they are a cut above the rest coming out of what was comparatively a slump and releasing their best work aside from `Dopethrone'. A modern classic perhaps, highly recommended.
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on 21 November 2007
I was hugely anticipating the release of this album by doom overlords electric wizard, as it was hinted they would return to the slow sludgey riffs of the seismic dopethrone album. However whilst the band retain much of the same lyrical themes, it is more reminiscent of stoner rock and genre legends Kyuss.

Whilst I am also a huge fan of Kyuss, the beauty of this bands' back catalogue was that the music was ugly and with the sheer vulgarity of their sound, you were guarenteed that your body would shake and contort under the wall of distortion. Witchcult Today appears to refine the clarity of sound and in the process loses it's immediate appeal.

Having only listened to the album a handful of times, i am certain that this album will prove to be solid album, but feel that it is not the classic return 'Electric Wizard' fans were promised.
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on 8 December 2007
With this, the sixth wizard album and second with the new line up, the band have produced a consistenly groovy & downright catchy piece of work. This is probably my favourite Wizard album after 'Come My fanatics' & shows the band firing on all cylinders.

Jus Oborn has clearly been hitting the Lovecraft & old horror movies, as pretty much every track is steeped in themes of the occult & the macabre. From the freaky, albeit slightly over long 'Black Magic Rituals & Perversions' to the obvious reference of 'Dunwich', every track has the themes of black magic & devil worshipping deeply ingrained within, probably more so than on any other EW album and thats saying something. On that basis alone, alot of fans & hardened metal heads should love it.

Criticism could be levelled at the fact that the band have upped the tempo just a touch & that pretty much every track has a much stronger focus on rhytm & song structure, but I think this makes the band more accessible with out forfeiting the heaviness & misanthropic loathing the fans love so. This is still one heavy album, awash with swirling guitars & Oborn's eerie, slightly more in tune wail of hopelessness evidenced on opener 'Witchcult Today'. From this first track onwards, this is possibly the most direct album the band have made or at least since 'Dopethrone'. 'Dunwich' is as catchy & subversive as they come with the lyrical refain of 'Child of Dunwich Rites/you have your fathers eye's' having all Lovecraft devotees nodding their heads in appreciation. Other stand out tracks include the brillant, although ludicriously titled 'Satanic Rites of Drugula' which is probably my favourite track & 'The Chosen Few',which is also darkly sublime. Having said that, every track (apart from the short soundscape 'Raptus') has something to keep the listener engaged. There are also several brillant solo's & interwoven guitar passages to flesh out the class A riffs Oborn has come up with yet again. This is definetly where the benefit of Liz Buckingham comes in, using the experience gained in doom band Sourvein to further the Wizard sound.

In short, although there will inevitably be complaints from the die hard's, this is a solid release & shows that the new line up will definetly mean business with future efforts, maybe even something to rival 'Dopethrone'. Who knows? The reason for the four stars is that, while the album is definetly of quality, I don't know if it will stand up to the test of time that some of the previous releases have. It's still a superb release though & should be heard even if you only have a passing interest in the Wizard or doom in general, in fact, this is probably a great place to start before having your mind completely blown by the amazing trilogy 'Come My Fanatics'/'Dopethrone'/'Let Us Pry'. High grade stuff - 4.5 stars.
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on 28 November 2007
Pretty much a return to their trippy best with a very murky, echo drenched doom psych vibe. Lots of stand out riffs here, especially "Satanic Rights of Drugula" and "Tarquemada 71". "Saturnine" recalls the best bits of We Live, and "Black Magic Rituals..." recalls various tracks by Electric Wizard in full horror soundtrack mode. The latter track is probably the most problematic on the album, as it does oddly seem to drag, but its more than made up for by the rest of the cd. There's a definite late 60's acid-psych feel to this record and should placate all those who felt uncomfortable with We Live's cleaner production values. Hard to think of 'if you like such and such you'll like this' comparisons...Electric Wizard are out on their own in many senses. Its heavy as hell, trippy, occult drenched, psychedelic doom! Buy it now!
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on 2 December 2007
After the relative disappointment of 'We Live', the Wizard are well and truly back with easily their best album since 'Dopethrone'. It has taken an age, but is well worth the wait. Anyone with even the remotest interest in doom metal needs to hear this album. Now.
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on 26 September 2008
This is an awesome record!

Heavy, fuzzy and retro without being too retro. Just great riffs from start to finish with a sound that'll smother you if you turn it up too loud. Electric Wizard at their best & most creative. Forget trends, this will always sound great.
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on 15 February 2009
The reviewer with the one line this is an awesome album perhaps says it all as it is !!!
Analogue recorded there is a warmness to this album rarely heard on CD, I'm not over familiar with the bands back catalogue but salutations are due for this one.
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