Come My Fanatics...

Electric Wizard

The Music Cartel, 1996

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Before I started "The Daily Vault," if you asked me what I considered stoner rock to be, I probably would have named bands like Hawkwind, Iron Butterfly... and even my beloved Grateful Dead. (C'mon, don't act surprised. I was at the final show, and I saw all the nitrous canisters out in the parking lot, amongst other things.)

These days, it seems like "stoner rock" is making a comeback, with all new faces in all new places. The sound is often similar: ringing bass tones, more plodding beats and laid-back but powerful delivery styles. Sometimes, such a combination is deadly, like when we reviewed Sleep's Jerusalem. (One chord change, that's all I asked for... one lousy friggin' chord change!)

Then, there are bands like Electric Wizard, whose 1997 release Come My Fanatics... has been released in the States, packaged with their self-titled first album. After the critical firebombing I gave Sleep, one might think that I was totally against stoner rock. But Electric Wizard prove early and often that this genre can be made interesting and kept that way for the course of an album... though I do wonder if including the debut was the greatest idea.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Oh, it's not that disc two of this set is bad; it's just that you can quickly hear the differences between the first outings of a young band and the second effort of a group with more experience and polish. But guitarist/vocalist Jus Oborn, bassist Tim Bagshaw and drummer Mark Greening do manage to keep both discs enjoyable and entertaining - something that some groups today can't say they can do on one disc.

Disc one - the actual album Come My Fanatics... - is the album that is closest to true stoner rock, with drawn-out intros and grooves so heavy they could crush a car. Most of the six selections on this disc clock in at eight minutes or more, but the tracks themselves are so well-written that the time seems to fly by. Songs like "Return Trip," "Son Of Nothing" and "Doom - Mantia" are both powerful and entertaining, with all three musicians turning in admirable performances.

If anything, I almost found myself wishing that more material had been included on Come My Fanatics..., which clocks in at just over 50 minutes. Electric Wizard shows that they have the talent to push this genre to a whole new level; it's almost like they stopped just before they reached that new plateau, leaving the listener hanging a little bit.

Compared to the jams on the first disc, the remixed Electric Wizard on disc two is short, by comparison. Only the track "Electric Wizard" goes the distance in length, and except for a little spaciness at the end, it makes use of its time well. Other tracks that stand out include "Devils Bride," "Stone Magnet" and "Mountains Of Mars".

Is listening to a group like Electric Wizard going to make you want to dust off the hookah and take a big breath in? Get serious; "stoner rock," while it may accurately describe some people's lifestyles, is just a term for this genre of hard rock. But Come My Fanatics... proves not only that this genre is here to stay for a while, but it could well become an art form that Electric Wizard is close to mastering.

Rating: A-

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© 1999 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of The Music Cartel, and is used for informational purposes only.