TVD Live: Electric Wizard and Satan’s Satyrs at Baltimore Soundstage, 4/1

It’s virtually impossible to have a conversation about stoner and doom metal without talking about England’s Electric Wizard. The self-proclaimed “heaviest band in the universe” has been laying down their evil brand of occult-tinged doom since 1995. 2014 saw the release of their eighth studio album, Time to Die, and at long last the Wizard has crossed the sea for their first American tour in ten years. The coven congregated on Wednesday night at Baltimore Soundstage, for a night of doom, evil, and weed—not necessarily in that order.

A sure sign that a band has not toured in the States in quite some time was the fact that upon entering Soundstage, you were instantly hit with a massive line. The line however was not for the bar, not for the bathrooms, but for merch. The line spread all the way across the floor to the front door as fans clamored to buy psychedelic black light posters and shirts that proudly proclaimed, “Legalise Drugs and Murder,” taken from the 2012 EP of the same name. By mid-show, a sign was posted stating that “ALL SHIRTS ARE SOLD OUT!”

The 9 o’clock hour tolled and Satan’s Satyrs took the stage. The trio from Virginia, bedecked in ‘70s garb, help establish the heavy retro vibe of the evening. Drummer Stephen Fairfield was damn near a spitting image of Geezer Butler, down to his frizzy mane and mustache. As they played “Show Me Your Skull,” Fairfield even broke out some retro metal moves, windmilling his hair around as he played. Overall, there was not a whole lot different this night than the last time I had seen them. The music was tight and cohesive at times and occasionally songs tried to be a bit jammy, but just seemed to unravel.

My biggest turnoff was the vocals of singer/bassist Clayton Burgess. While Burgess plays a mean bass (for both Satan’s Satyrs and Electric Wizard), his vocals are, to put it simply, lacking. The impression I was left with was that of a teen at the battle of the bands, trying his damnedest to emulate Ozzy Osbourne, yet fell way short of the mark. The majority of the set was tight though, and I would love to see what Satan’s Satyrs are capable of if Burgess found his true voice.

Most were satisfied with the appetizer, yet the crowd grew hungry for the main course. The lights went down and an eerie droning intro began. The tension in the room was as tangible as the haze of marijuana smoke in the air. Electric Wizard finally took the stage, kicking things off with the skull-shattering “Witchcult Today” and going right into “Black Mass,” singer/bassist Jus Oborn leading a celebration of witchcraft, Satan, and evil. The riffs were enormous and the sound, while not incredibly loud, had a heaviness that could be felt in your fillings.

By this point the venue was absolutely packed and it was a bit tough to gain a good vantage point for those of us on the shorter side. The crowd roared approval as the opening riff to “Satanic Rites of Drugula” began, and the throng chanted along with Oborn during the chorus, echoing “Your dope laced blood shows me new highs/Bloodlust, druglust, Count Drugula arise…” As the band played, an array of videos were displayed behind them featuring occult clips from ‘60s and ‘70s witchcraft movies, biker flicks, and psychedelic patterns. Gratuitous nudity and bloody sacrifice filled the screens and it fit in perfectly with the songs of Electric Wizard.

By the time they began the classic “Dopethrone,” I realized that both the sound mix had gotten a bit clearer and the band was playing tighter than at the beginning of the set. They truly got better as the night went on, much to everyone’s pleasure. The band has found their stride and played as if they were out for blood. Guitarist Liz Buckingham’s hair bobbed in front of her well-hidden face as she led them through “The Chosen Few” which turned into a heavy trip jam before ending with one of the creepiest outros of any song around. The Wizard closed out the night with the brutally heavy “Funeralopolis.”

The crowd fell out of the venue in search of cooler air, sated after witnessing the previous hour-plus of some of the finest stoner/ doom metal around. We can only hope it’s not another ten years before Electric Wizard makes a return trip to lay more epic doom grooves upon the Black Masses.

ELECTRIC WIZARD

SATAN’S SATYRS

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