Somewhere along the way (and it's hard to say when exactly), but somewhere along the way Electric Wizard became more than a band. They became an idea. They became an attitude. A state of mind. Words like "titans" and "legends" began to accompany the band any time they were mentioned in print or online. People who didn't before identify as fans of metal were starting to heap praise on the seminal recording, Dopethrone. "Oh, that band. They have the Electric Wizard font," became a thing that people said as lesser bands began to crib and repurpose the iconic lettering for their own advances. So, when the Wizard announces that there's a new record on the horizon, it's not just the heshers, derelicts and the amoral who take notice; it's just about everybody.
Time to Die is the band's eighth proper long-player, and first since 2010's Black Masses. In announcing the new album, it was revealed that original drummer Mark Greening would be returning back to behind the kit. In the time since the album was recorded, Greening has since been let go again. To long-time observers, it would seem that bad blood never truly washes away.
Clocking in at over an hour, Time to Die is one of the more hateful sounding albums in the band's discography. On album opener, "Incense for the Damned," frontman Jus Osborn sneers "I don't give a fuck about anyone," which may sound innocuous enough but upon delivery is damn menacing. The samples the band employs on Time to Die come from the same dark forest as on past albums. Hushed whispers about drugs, murder and Satan are once again deployed to help set the ritualistic tone. On "Destroy Those Who Love God," a child recites incantations. Later on, a new reporter parses through the details of a boy who marked his body with the phrase "I'm coming home, Master" and the number of the beast and then hung himself.
That being said, spooky audio samples and legacy are only part of the band's business. Most come for the riffs. The first two songs of the record, "Incense for the Damned" and the title track, eat up 18 minutes of tape and are as gnarled, hazy, disorienting and riff-laden as to be expected from the band. Songs such as "Funeral of Your Mind," "We Love The Dead," and "Lucifer's Slaves" find the band at the peak of their powers.
The album gains strength the longer it plays. By the time its over, it feels like the band has finally finished warming up. Closer, "Saturn Dethroned," ends with a veritable stinger, a tease of what's to come. Electric Wizard haven't reinvented the wheel with Time to Die nor have they doubled down in some sort of last grab effort. Put simply, they've made yet another record for those hopeless late nights when smoke fills the room. This album won't convert non-believers but for those who have already taken the plunge, this is the soundtrack in 2014 for reveling at the edge of the cliff in the face of your oppressors.
8.0 / 10
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