Album Review: Electric Wizard -- Black Masses

(Article first published as Electric Wizard Conjures Up A Classic on Blogcritics)

In contrast to the fairly sedate musical year of 2010, 2011 has already seen some its finest musical releases thus far fall in the hard rock category.

Leading the pack is the awesome Electric Wizard and their latest, Black Masses. The Wizard are like the grungiest, darkest aspects of classic Black Sabbath distilled to their graveyard essence.

Black Masses sounds ancient, primeval: its metallic, atmospheric doom wafting through the years, seemingly emanating from a time when Satan was a literal entity, a reality for Western man.

Wizard leader Jus Osborn revels in old Hammer horror flicks like the classic The Devil Rides Out, and says he wants to make rock and roll evil again, a very noble goal indeed.

Certainly the addictive and Satanic grooves of Black Masses, with its paeans to Lucifer and black magic, and the reappearance of Count Drugula, a character from the band's previous slab of evil, Witchcult Today, who seems to be Dracula's junkie twin brother, should be enough to cause the Tea Party to launch a massive Wizard hunt when the UK band hits American shores.

The band even has enough chutzpah to include a stellar track called "Venus In Furs" here, and it's NOT the gothic classic by The Velvet Underground. 

The Wizard certainly have the right stuff to make hard rock fashionable again in North America.  With the album’s opening track, “Black Mass,” they have even created a 21st century version of Black Sabbath’s classic and defining “Paranoid,” as Osborn, backed by an ascending riff that builds anticipation and expectation, calls upon Lucifer to take him “higher and higher”:

Lucifer I summon thee to my black mass
I call upon you to complete my evil task
My heart is black and my soul is dead
Hear my words of hate give me strength

Hear me Lucifer!
Black Mass, Black Mass
Take Me Higher, Higher!
Black Mass, Black Mass

Black Masses proudly takes its place beside such demonic classics as Sabbath's Master of Reality and Danzig's Lucifuge in the pantheon of classic hard rock and metal.

--Johnny Walker (Black)