The music of Electric Wizard
is the soundtrack to personal apocalypses. Unlike other bands who deal in major personal crisis, though, they do not promise consolation. They offer no understanding. They absolutely do not suggest solutions. As thick, oblique and arctic as ice cut from a glacier, at its best their particular brand of stoner metal offers nothing more than the coldest kind of comfort: sonic obliteration. Their work is nihilistic in every sense of the word, the sounds often so overburdened with distortion and layered so thickly that the music's structure buckles and collapses, the lyrics so hopeless that they devolve inevitably into demanding the world's end. Though the band did lose their way in later years, dabbling more in hokey imagery and simplistic shock tactics and opting for a less aggressive sound on Witchcult Today
and Black Masses
remains an undisputed masterpiece. An album fueled entirely by despair gone sour with rage, it was a directionless, sprawling scree against everything and everyone. It was an album about wrath.
Time to Die
, by contrast, is an album about nothing
(or, rather, nothingness
). It's not as unrelenting as Dopethrone
. It has more than a few cheesy soundclips and lazily opts for standard psychedelic riffing on a number of lesser tracks. "Funeral of Your Mind" sounds like a jam session that wanted to end but could not. The samples that underline "Destroy Those Who Love God" transform what should have been a granite-faced dirge into a sneering jeer and though it's an excellent march, musically, the lyrics on "I Love The Dead" are so embarrassing ("I love the dead/the living make me sad") that it's hard to think it was written by anyone older than fifteen.
And yet, every misstep on this album seems forgivable when considering "I Am Nothing," the album's centerpiece and maybe the band's single greatest track. Here is possibly the densest song ever conceived: an aural black hole, it draws the listener in by its hypnotic guitars, the compulsive force of its percussion and the mantra-like repetition of the vocals until you arrive at the center of the song and realize, finally, that there is no choice left but to believe, as the song suggests, that you are nothing, that there is nothing period. For the first time since Dopethrone's
"Funeralopolis" the band has found their way back to something truly and deeply primal. No more idiotic posturing, no more indulgent guitar noodling or bass bashing, here is a piece of real and terrifying sweep, one that turns what should be the most childish of lyrics ("I am nothing/you are nothing/I will kill you for nothing") into a genuinely terrifying statement of just how little there is separating everyone from the abyss. This is pitch-black pessimism, so matter-of-fact that it manages to make obliteration seem somehow appealing. This song is reason enough to listen to the album: by the sheer dent of its gravity it manages to alter the shape of the album around it, bolstering tracks as weak as "Funeral of Your Mind" transforming already strong numbers such as "Incense for the Damned" and "Lucifer's Slave" into something far more menacing than they were on their own.
This is music to lose yourself to, to sink down into for hours, music to curse the world by, music that hollows you out and leaves you feeling empty and stamped on and degraded. This is music without a shred of dignity and only scraps from the darkest aspects of humanity, music that appeals to something primal and ugly and self-destructive. This is the Anti-Life Equation.