For 21 years, Electric Wizard have carried the mantle of Stoner music. Their imagery and mystique is only a small fraction of who they are.
When Electric Wizard last tore up the stage in New York City, it was back in 2015, at Webster Hall, a venue that has since been closed. The Dorset-born doomsters have been growing in popularity at a constant pace since their 1995 self-titled debut. This short but sweet North American tour was only five dates. The New York show was their final night in North America, at the PlayStation Theater, a much larger venue with superior acoustics, located in Times Square.
The long line outside the theater had a constant flow of people, but once inside the venue, there was a huge second line for the band’s incredibly artful, and often sold-out merchandise. The feel-good vibe was felt in the common area of the venue and continued into the theater.
The Electric Wizard logo appeared onstage in their retro style font in hazy red, white and blue lights. Controlled guitar feedback noise played through the house speakers, as Jus Oborn’s dark silhouette could be seen walking on stage to plug in his Gibson SG before launching into the song “Witchcult Today.” The 8-minute song has the hyper-fuzz distortion that has become synonymous with Electric Wizard.
The wall of sound served as an appetizer for the rest of the show’s main course. The sustained sound of the drone guitars continued well into the next song “Black Mass” from the band’s most recent album of the same name. The audience moshed throughout this song as a montage of images from the films of director Jess Franco took center stage while the band planted themselves in a stationary position for the rest of the evening.
With nine albums in their career, Electric Wizard was able to pick the creme de la creme of their music. Playing the deep cut, “Return Trip” from Come My Fanatics showed why they are able to tour without any support for an album. With a vast body of work, the doom metal musicians in Electric Wizard have little left to prove. Their music, thick with effect pedals and pot smoke, has long been their high-water mark. When they played “See You In Hell” from Wizard Bloody Wizard, the follow-up to their incredible 2014 album Time to Die, they show their musical growth. This album is loaded with more ear-friendly songs, all the while still showing their appreciation for Black Sabbath, who has clearly inspired this act. “See You in Hell,” packs a heavy punch and was the stand out performance of the entire night.
The evening progressed with the crowd singing along to “Incense For The Damned,” from the album Time to Die. The 10- minute opus is layered with drench swampy sounding guitars and the husband and wife duo Liz and Jus traded licks. The audience chanted, “We wanna get high before we die!” as the song faded.
Live, the band sounds very much like they do in the recording but the added harmonious imagery contributes to the full spiritual nature of an Electric Wizard show. The crowd favorite, “Satanic Rites of Drugula,” added a new layer of electricity. As Jus preaches his message of awareness through his playing, we see a man who lays his soul bare for all to see. As he leads the audience into the trip with songs like “Dopethrone,” and “The Chosen Few,” we see a man who has reached the apex of guitar playing. The audience follows him, like the Pied Piper of Hamelin, into the finale with the song “Funeralopolis” from the 2000 album, Dopethrone. The crowd was drenched and elated as the venue emptied slowly like a fog into the streets of New York City.
Words: Sebastian Bjorn Benedict
Photos: Anya Svirskaya
Event Date: 04-MAY-2018