The Electric Wizard – We Live
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2004's We Live witnessed the birth of Electric Wizard Mark II, as lone remaining founding member Jus Osborn -- tired of years of internal strife -- decided to "upgrade" the doom metal stalwarts from a power trio to a twin-guitar quartet. However, with or without the cosmetic improvement brought on by the addition of second guitarist Liz Buckingham, it's important to point out that this incarnation of Electric Wizard has little in common with the original article of ten years prior. Rather, as previewed by 2002's slightly more subdued Let Us Prey opus, this, the Wizard's fifth album finds the Dorset doom masters' original, overwhelming force largely replaced by a deep-seated sense of dread. Here, said vibe is established by the sphinx-like, ten-minute, two-part opener "Eko Eko Azarak: 1. Invocation; 2. Ritual," which quickly puts that second six-string to good use with minor key melodic lines backing up the band's characteristic power riffing. Then again, the ensuing title track, with its spoken word intro undoubtedly lifted from some crappy hammer horror movie, will surprise none among the band's devotees; and the fact that it goes on a little longer than necessary may be less a factor of bad form than overt familiarity with Electric Wizard's habits (again, depending on the listener). Both the typically sloth-like "Flower of Evil a.k.a. Malfiore" and the requisite "fast number," "Another Perfect Day?" also have their share of memorable moments -- but not enough, and the second in particular definitely overstays its welcome with useless repetition. So it's with great relief that this rare swoon is vengefully redeemed by two positively awesome compositions: the bottomless despairing "The Sun Has Turned to Black," where the band's second guitar is put to its best use yet; and the final, devastating mass that is 15-minute monolith "Saturn's Children," which spins back the clock to sit comfortably alongside Electric Wizard's greatest achievements of yore. Taken as a whole, however, We Live's clearly uneven attributes will probably not see it going down as Electric Wizard's finest hour; but even so, and taking into account the group's recent transformation, it does offer conclusive proof that, even on a mixed day, this band never drops too far off the top of the doom class.