The Electric Wizard 

We Live

The definite article isn't the only sign of some pretty serious upheaval in Electric Wizard-land. Sometime after 2002's Let Us Prey and its legendarily chaotic US tour, the ultimate doom power trio's rhythm section peeled away, leaving frontman Jus Osborn alone with his amps and bong. Fortunately, he has recruited three superb new backers in drummer Justin Greaves (Iron Monkey, Teeth Of Lions Rule the Divine), bassist Rob Al-Issa, and second guitarist Liz Buckingham (13, Sourvein).

Osborn has chosen to call this new version "The Electric Wizard." (There's also a reference to "Electric Wizard II" inside the CD booklet.) But all nomenclatural quibbling aside, We Live is the work of a much tighter, more focused band -- the mix is the cleanest since Come My Fanatics, which is surprising, since Greaves and Buckingham are both best known for filthy, Eyehategod-style sludge. But they line up behind the boss, and the two-guitar attack allows the Wizard to rock more (and more traditionally) than ever before.

"Another Perfect Day?" is the album's one truly foot-stompin' moment, cranking it up like the rebirth of Blue Cheer. Otherwise, it's epic doom all the way. The fifteen-minute closer, "Saturn's Children," is the heart of the record: It roars and throbs and just refuses to end, as close as any Western metal act has ever come to the rarefied realms of amp overdrive where Boris, Corrupted, and Fushitsusha dwell. Some folks might say that a cleaned-up (sonically, not personally) Electric Wizard is no Electric Wizard at all, but those folks are fools -- this is as crushing a record as anyone is likely to release in 2004, and it has no trouble maintaining Osborn's rep as a sonic fearmongerer.

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