Special Feature: Remastered. Bonus Track.
- Vinum Sabbathi
- Weird Tales I. Electric Frost II. Golgotha III. Altar of Melektaus
- I, the Witchfinder
- The Hills Have Eyes
- We Hate You
- Mind Transferral (Bonus Track)
Release Date: 2006
LabeL; Rise Above Records
If one were to reference the word “heavy” in the dictionary, as I did the other day, many definitions referring to weight, depth, and even emotion can be found. While all these choices are valid, I was dismayed by not finding what I was expecting, a picture of the red-eyed mugs of Jus Oborn, Tim Bagshaw, and Mark Greening, the collective known as Electric Wizard. If any one band or one album truly deserves to be the example by which all musical heaviness is measured, it is Electric Wizard and their stoner doom masterpiece, Dopethrone.
Dopethrone was released three years after Come My Fanatics…, an album which was widely regarded as their best effort to date, introducing the masses to the unique style of these UK doomsters. Because of this, their next endeavor was set up perfectly to be the proverbial under whelming follow up. However, borrowing heavily from the charismatic and supremely heavy sound of its predecessor, Dopethrone managed to enhance the Electric Wizard legacy and is still considered to be firmly implanted in doom's all-time upper echelon of albums.
The sound utilized by Electric Wizard is one of excess, especially in the distortion department. The vocals of Jus Oborn, which are more of a yell than a scream, are so foggy and indistinct that it almost sounds as if you are pressing your ear against a wall listening to him sing in the next room. This was no doubt intended to push the vocals to the background and out of the listener’s focus, which is commandeered by one of the most engaging combinations of guitar, bass, and drums found in metal. Words will do no justice to the depth of the guitar and bass tones found on an Electric Wizard release, and this fact specifically applies to Dopethrone. Rolf Startin’s production manages to produce a guitar sound so loud, so heavy, and so distorted you might feel as if your head is going to explode from the sheer gravity of it. If my descriptions strike you as facetious in nature, I would advise you to take on the main riff of Funerapolis, which is a prime example of just how ear splittingly heavy this album can be. Dopethrone stomps along at a pace generally no more than an oozing crawl, but occasionally, as in the shortest and tamest track, the opener Vinum Sabbathi, the boys rev up to idle speed.
Dopethrone also employs somewhat of a playful nature with movie quote samples around every corner. You really get the sense that the guys had a blast recording this album, undoubtedly utilizing the aid of a certain green plant. Another aspect, also featured on Come My Fanatics…, which works well here is the use of feedback and effects to create an outer space ambience for certain moments. This is most evident during Weird Tales, a fifteen minute, three act opus, which starts off as mid paced stoner rock tune, before descending into one of the lowest doom riffs ever put to record and finishing off with a spaced out drone section which serves as a both a change of pace and a breather. Indeed, this track is an experience unto itself.
While there really isn’t anything new to be found here, as most of this sound is a continuation of Come My Fanatics…, a charismatic mood looms over Dopethrone and draws you in. I tend to find new portions of this album that blow my mind every time I listen, such as the opening bass riff to We Hate You, which could have easily carried the whole track without the aid of Jus Oborn's guitar. However, I can’t say that every track is destined to be a classic. The Hills Have Eyes could have and should have been an intro instead of a stand-alone song. Vinum Sabbathi, while not a bad song, feels a bit out of place. It merely repeats the same riff for a short three minutes and pales in scope and grandeur to the rest of the album. Maybe the worst moment is the prolonged period of absolute silence on the heels of the closing title track. I hoped and expected to hear a hidden track that was worth my patience. What I got was the realization that I just wasted ten minutes of my life. While these gripes may keep Dopethrone from overtaking Come My Fanatics…, at least in my eyes, it should not diminish the fact that this album deserves to be mentioned as one of the finest doom albums ever, stoner or otherwise.
Anyone who has ever found any redeeming quality in a doom album owes it to themselves to hear Dopethrone. It builds on the guitar driven rock sound of such giants of the genre as Black Sabbath and Sleep by adding its own unique brand of heaviness and character.Electric Wizard is often referred to as the “heaviest band in the universe” and, with albums like Dopethrone as evidence, that notion is hard to argue. - Adam