Album Of The Month – October
Electric Wizard – Time To Die
2014 – Spinefarm Records
During the late evening of June 16 1984 in Northport, Long Island, New York, Ricky Kasso subjected associate Gary Lauwers to over four hours of hallucinogenic drug fuelled stabbings and torture. He allegedly did this in the name of Satan. He finished his grisly task by gouging out Lauwers’ eyeballs, ordering him to say he loved Satan then filled his throat with rocks until he finally expired. Gary Lauwers’ partly mutilated and decomposing body was recovered by law enforcement officers two weeks afterwards, Kasso was arrested and subsequently hanged himself in his cell the day afterwards.
It’s time to die now.
A simple case of an argument between teenagers under the influence of large doses of LSD about allegedly stolen bags of PCP, an acid dropping anti-social grave robbing loner wearing a metal t-shirt and putting all of life’s shitty fucked up faith in a belief in Satan. Is it really all that simple? This was in fact a story about death of self, destruction of entire belief systems, rejection of conventional values and the ultimate sacrifice – not drugs, Satanic ritual or a fucking AC/DC t-shirt. Commentators were quick to make the usual connections between Kasso’s taste in music, habitual and prolific drug use and interest in an alternative way of life that didn’t sit comfortably with theirs and condemned him for all of the wrong reasons.
Dorset’s finest doom metal band Electric Wizard have chosen to make this entire story the basis of their eighth album and it has quite literally blown me away with it’s terminally heavy, oppressively stoned despair. The burbling brook and TV reportage that opens the LP is shot through with a terrible sunlit starkness and unnerving reality. It puts you right there at the scene of the murder and makes you look at the rotting corpse as cops survey the scene. This first track, Incense For The Damned is a lyrically unnerving stare through another pair of eyes…
“We wanna get high before we die”
“You say drugs are evil / But your world seems worse to me / I don’t give a fuck about anyone”
Oborn and Buckingham’s guitars are intimately raw and immediate, their sound is thick and murky. Dirgeful, filthy and beautiful. Title track ’Time To Die’ features an unexpected organ intro which soon collapses under a welter of riffs and frenzied wah-wah soloing.
“Wake up baby it’s time to die / wake the children it’s time to die”
“Maybe I’m already dead… we’re all shadows in the darkness”
‘Funeral Of Your Mind’ is thick with weed smoke, a cloud of hazy, swirling drugginess and just the kind of brilliantly Sabbathian fuck you I haven’t heard for a very long time. Probably since The Wizard’s last LP. Oborn’s voice is veiled in reverb – he mumbles and wails incomprehensibly at times. The guitar solo is sublime, buzzing wah-wah alchemy which leads the track into a final disintegration of confused distortion. ’SadioWitch’ is a sneering, hateful ball of spite spewed from weed-sodden lungs – vengeful and just fucking nasty for the sake of it. ‘Lucifer’s Slaves’ is dirgeful and dripping with a drug habit that would give even a heavy user second thoughts. The subtle use of Moog midway through the track though is a thing of disturbed beauty that actually brought out a few tears. Not a common occurrence on a record such as this.
“Fuck your world, fuck everything”
“Die… DIE… fuck YOU”
But the best run of tracks here are utterly monumental, ‘I Am Nothing’ is eleven and a half minutes of sleazy, blood spattered riffage. As heavy, bleak and nihilistic as fuck. Sonic murder. Death by guitars. It’s akin to being repeatedly kicked in the face with heavy boots… or stabbed in the chest with a blunt rusty knife.
“I am nothing / I mean nothing / I see nothing / I feel nothing… as I kill you”
The whole track falls apart midway into a drug-fuelled freak out which seems to capture an ecstatic release of some kind. A build up to an immensely brutal act. Murder and destruction in musical terms. This fucked up coda then segues into more TV reportage pushing the fact that despite the fact that Kasso was interested in “Satanism and rock music associated with devil worship” the killing was being treated as a mere drug related crime. Nothing to see here folks, move along now. It was the drugs that did it guv’ and not The Great Horned One so you can all go back to your blameless, perfect, living-dead existences without a care in your antiseptic little lives. This brief interlude ends chillingly with the voice of an innocent child who passionately intones;
“Oh my Satan, destroy those who love god”
The LP ends with another brief, Moog heavy instrumental, ’Saturn Dethroned’ which is probably one of the most genuinely stirring pieces of music you’ll hear this year or next. And then the heavy fist of fucked up respectability punches you full in the face to bloody your nose in the name of some fucking spurious, spiritually bankrupt, god-fearing and ever loving bastard to remind you that;
“When you get into one of these groups, there’s only a couple of ways you can get out. One is death, the other is mental institutions. Or the third – you can’t get out”
Go right to fucking hell yourself, preferably with this album playing as your soundtrack.
This LP is probably all I’ll be listening to for the coming weeks and months. It says so much to me right now, connects with a part of my being that I never knew I had. It repulses me too but completely draws me in to it’s twisted, noxious and supremely squalid gorgeousness. When an album touches you as deeply as this one clearly has, it truly changes your life. It may be the difference between a hair’s breadth or a seismic shift but your life is somehow different because of this music playing on your hi-fi… in your head, in your mind.
This album has definitely changed my life in parts these past few weeks, I’m still trying to work out how much those changes amount to and what comes next.
Essential listening doesn’t go nearly far enough.