Sure, doom is a solitary magpie affair that doesn’t ordinarily deal in good news stories. But c’mon, even the joyless industry beancounters will be left catatonic with optimism after Electric Wizard‘s first magic trick of the night: filling a theatre.
It’s the measure of doom metal’s stock that it can pack the heathens cheek by jowl into venues the size of the Forum twice in the space of six months. When Cathedral did it for their farewell and cheerio show, that was to be expected and all; it was a party/wake, not to be missed, etc. But tonight’s show doesn’t have much to herald it given that it has come between albums. There is the promise of Hawkwind’s psychedelic light show and a full-on cinematic visual presentation of Electric Wizard’s drugged-up hedonistic M.O., and this is the only place you’ll be able to pick up new vinyl single Legalise Drugs & Murder. But Black Masses came out towards the tail-end of 2010. That’s ages ago. And besides, a sizeable portion of tonight’s audience look too fucked up to be relied upon to find themselves anywhere other than an alternate reality of their mind’s creation.
There are casualties everywhere, eyes rolling about in their sockets. The carnage is only to be expected when Electric Wizard’s oeuvre has long been regarded as a base camp for metal’s psychonauts. Long before the Wizard are due onstage there are dudes in the advanced stages of partying just littering the floor. Like Leather Man, a six-foot-something incapacitated stork of a man whose legs stretch out like collapsed scaffolding, that anyone with intentions of buying merch has to navigate their way round or over. Security guards in high-viz jackets lead some of the most dazed and confused to the street. The pungent aroma of marijuana scents the backstage area, and stretches round through those waiting in line to get in. Even inside there are plumes of forbidden smoke. It’s like the ’70s, which makes Purson seem like perfect sense. They look like they’ve been beamed here from a crude teleporter that Lee Dorrian assembled from an old microwave oven, an oscilloscope and an Open University physics textbook. They sound like Mandy Morton and Spriguns playing riff-driven classic psych-rock, informed by demonology and obscure ’70s prog, Soft Machine and King Crimson et al. You can check out a BBC6 Music audio interview with them HERE.
Witchsorrow roll the clocks back too (shit, there’s a healthy degree of atavism to everyone’s sound) but are date-stamped somewhere in the years between the release of Born Too Late and Forest of Equilibrium. There’s some Celtic Frost in there too, saucing up a canon that’s written on the back of the the most cursed demographic in Medieval England, the witches. “Scream for me, London” demands guitarist/vocalist Necroskull. …Not sure how loud the front of house response was but it’d be interesting to hear if the Farnborough hearing doctor’s first patient on Monday morning was wearing a battle-vest and a bulletbelt.
“Satanic Rites of Drugula” from Italy, 2012
Electric Wizard are all about drugs, boobs and Satan. But mostly boobs. Opening with the slow coach dirge of “Supercoven” the band are silhouetted in turquoise, purple and red lights, while Jus Oborn’s collection of VHS cult horror plays on the screens at the back of and flanking the stage. Anton LaVey makes an appearance via Speak of the Devil. There are more than a few goat heads, goblets too. But mostly it’s just a loop of naked woman being sacrificed to the devil, often by fat dudes in hoods that could be Ghost fulfilling the small print particulars of their record deal. It’s disorientating, boob after boob. You can’t see Jus or Liz Buckingham’s faces so it’s OK to to stare at the boobs and the devil and immerse yourself in the sheer hedonism of it all. Who would have thought that the female form could be such a psychedelic enabler?
This is an immersion into the Wizard’s world, as sexual as it is morbid. “Night Child” is a loose-riffed hip-swinger; “Dopethrone”, the gran riserva of British doom metal. Even if your stash had long run dry, this is powerful enough to coax any residual THC out of the fat cells and back into the brain. “Return Trip” and “Legalize Drugs & Murder” are meritorious tributes to the dark side of counterculture, while “Black Masses” makes good on Oborn’s claims that the album was written with hooks in mind. A climactic “Funeralopolis” aims for the sensorial overload, but its End of Days sentiment unnecessarily driven home by documentary footage from the Holocaust. There endeth the party in strobes, feedback and genuine horror. Electric Wizard had made their point already without all that. But then they’ve been preaching to the converted, the fanatics.
”Funeralopolis”, kinda shonky audio and with as-seen-through-drug-user’s-retina quality to the video