Electric Wizard’s modus operandi, shared with countless doom-metal acts, is to take what Black Sabbath did on their first three albums and do it louder, slower, and grimier. But on Wizard Bloody Wizard, the Dorset group resurrects the spirt of Sabbath’s fifth album, 1973’s Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, which saw the original doom merchants dabbling in proggier dynamics and structures.
For those headbanging purists, however, whose teeth are set on edge by the word “prog” (or “dynamics”), fear not: Wizard Bloody Wizard remains firmly in Master of Reality territory. The album does present some subtle tweaks to the doom-metal formula: The churning, throbbing “Necromania” introduces an element of punk sneer to the proceedings, channeling Ron Asheton-era Stooges, while “The Reaper” drips with psychedelic menace. But for the most part, this is monolithic riff-rock straight out of the Sabbath playbook—sometimes to a fault, like when the bludgeoning main riff of “Wicked Caress” treads just a little too closely to Sabbath’s “Into the Void.”
But then, such open thievery is par for the course for Electric Wizard—who, after all, got their name from simply combining the titles of two Sabbath songs, “Electric Funeral” and “The Wizard.” In this regard, Wizard Bloody Wizard is certainly on brand. The album isn’t doing anything that hasn’t been done before, least of all by Electric Wizard themselves, whose 2000 album Dopethrone remains a cornerstone of contemporary stoner rock. Lyrically, the songs are as married to Geezer Butler’s creeping existential dread as they are musically to the iron-booted stomp of Tony Iommi and Bill Ward; a glance at the song titles should be all you need to get an idea of the subject matter.
Still, there’s something to be said for a well-executed retread, and that’s Electric Wizard’s specialty. They’re not breaking new ground, or trying to: True to their sorcerous name, the band simply performs the right incantations and brings forth old demons from the abyss. Some things don’t need reinventing, and fortunately for Electric Wizard, heavy metal is one of them.