Electric Wizard cast spell on NYC 4-2-15

Electric Wizard cast spell on NYC 4-2-15

After a thirteen year hiatus from a full United States tour, and three years since their appearance at Maryland Deathfest, England’s Electric Wizard set their sights on a return to the region. Taking their name from Black Sabbath’s songs “Electric Funeral” and “The Wizard”, Electric Wizard have blended a mix of Doom, Stoner, and Sludge Metal that has become their signature sound over the course of two plus decades and eight studio records, including their most recent Time to Die from 2014. Kicking things off on March 31st in Philadelphia, PA, Thursday April 2nd found the band at a sold out Webster Hall in New York City. With the town waiting more than a decade for Electric Wizard to cast their spell, the line of eager fans outside the venue formed almost two hours prior to doors opening.

Opening the evening was Herndon, Virginia’s Satan’s Satyrs. Heavily influenced by bands ranging from Iggy and the Stooges to Electric Wizard themselves, they blend a unique mix of Psychedelic Stoner Rock that incorporates aspects of Glam and Garage Rock. Formed in 2009, the band is fronted by current Electric Wizard bassist, Clayton Burgess on vocals, along with Jarrett Nettnin on guitar and Stephen Fairfield on drums. Supporting their second overall studio album, Die Screaming (2014), the band opened up with the the trippy instrumental “Thumper’s Theme” before going into the Punk Rock vibe of “Instruments of Hellfire.” Bringing on the feel of a venerable soundtrack to an aggressive ’70s sleaze Horror flick, their set also included songs such as “Alucard,” “Creepy Teens,” and “Lucifer Lives!,” among others. The heavy psychedelic aspect, along with the bare bones stage, had the band looking like Iron Butterfly’s 1968 In-a-gadda-da-vida album cover, sounding like the Dead Boys started dropping acid and wearing paisley. Overall, they were a fitting start to the night and their raunchy sound certainly set the mood for what was to come.

Electric Wizard took their time getting to the stage, and that was perfectly fine for the crowd who were chugging beers, having a good time, as they awaited the band to consult their unholy album catalog. As soon as the lights dimmed and a sound clip began playing, the packed Webster Hall bellowed as scenes of gratuitous ’70s Horror/Sexploitation films were projected on the screen behind Simon Poole’s drum kit. For many, this was the first time seeing the band since their performance back in 2002 at Northsix in Brooklyn, NY. For others, it was the first time seeing the band period, and excitement was mounting with each passing moment.

As founding member guitarist/vocalist Jus Oborn, guitarist Liz Buckingham, Burgess, and Poole took the stage, they immediately fuzzed into the title track off of their 2007 album Witchcult Today. The slow groove of the song turned the crowd into a sea of slow head banging from the first note. Clocking in at just under eight minutes long, the pace of the evening was being set. This would be a night where all the classics of Electric Wizard’s catalog would be featured and every moment would be savored. Once the groove began, not one person wanted it to stop. Staying with the “title-track” kick, they crunched into “Black Mass.” With a dark ambiance taking over, the sound of Oborn’s voice could be heard over the crowd’s chants of “hear me Lucifer!” as the almost oppressively ominous dirge wore on.

Within roughly three songs, there was a fairly peculiar odor emanating from the crowd, which was telling as they went immediately into “Dopethrone.” Surprisingly, the popular song actually spurred a mosh pit, which thankfully did not last as long as the title track off their 2000 release, clocking in at just over ten and a half minutes. After briefly stopping for a sip of beer, Oborn gave Buckingham a quick nod before the band embarked on “Return Trip.” Buckingham’s long blonde hair covered her face for almost every second of the set, shrouding Electric Wizard’s doom diva in mystery as she strummed her guitar before a sea of enraptured fans. In fact, the entire show was a head game that only Electric Wizard could bring. Psychedelic as can be, the nine song set stretched long and wide to much the pleasure of the audience, where many other bands would need to play twice as many titles to satisfy a crowd. The mind of any audience member might be fogged after the spectacle of the flashing lights, mirrored projected films, along with the crunch of the bass, forcing a cerebral experience that had everyone on the same level. The set finale, “Funeralopolis,” culled from Dopethrone, was met with anticipation and a dim purple light that blended perfectly with the haze of ever present gloom in the air.

The entire evening was a consistent abyss of occult-laden Doom Metal bliss brought forth by the one and only Electric Wizard. The vocals were blurred out over the buzz of the bass and guitars just the way one would expect and the exact way this band produce their records. The crowd was captivated by the grooving sounds from start to finish, and the band seldom took time to speak unless it was song lyrics.  After almost fifteen years of waiting, Electric Wizard show no sign of ending their sorcery. They continue to deliver Dorset’s finest ’70s inspired Doom, honing a sound that would make Black Sabbath themselves proud. Electric Wizard once again left their mark on New York City, as well as every other city they visited during this special sixteen date run. Followers will be talking about this tour until the next time the band returns, which all hope that this time around, is not far off.

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Josh Stavrakoglou
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