Review: Electric Wizard, Riverside, Newcastle

Electric Wizard
Electric Wizard

A sea of long hair and black jackets descended upon Newcastle quayside last night as Dorset doom lords Electric Wizard paid their first-ever visit to the North East.

Widely known as the heaviest band in the universe, the quartet proceeded to shake Riverside to its foundations, blitzing a packed-out audience with leviathan riffs and hypnotic squalls of feedback.

In what was one of only three UK dates, this most extreme of metal bands came backed with an able supporting cast in the form of Londoners Riddles and Angel Witch.

Veterans of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal movement, the latter in particular delivered a storming performance, belying their years with a blizzard of rollicking solos and sparking a singalong with their eponymous classic, Angel Witch.

As far as tonight went, that number was something of a one-off. Verses, choruses and overt hooks are, after all, hardly fixtures in the Electric Wizard songbook.

Instead, what they delivered was the sonic equivalent of a baked Brontosaurus fleeing a nuclear holocaust; like Master of Reality-era Black Sabbath pushed to and way beyond any logical conclusion.

Some of the more sensible attendees came armed with earplugs, though frankly they might as well have rocked up with an armful of nappies, such was the nature of this lumbering, sluggard onslaught.

There's nothing particularly complicated in what Electric Wizard do. There's no great variety within the maelstrom, while one of their signature songs, Legalise Drugs and Murder, is essentially the title refrain repeated over the same looping riff for six and a half minutes (and it feels like twice that!).

For those who like their metal pushed to its extremes, however, it simply doesn't get any better than this, and before long it became impossible to resist the communal slo-mo headbang.

Listening to the ominous chug of Black Mass, for instance, you can almost visualise Hell's armies gearing up for battle, while the vivid images evoked by the mighty Dopethrone require no elaboration.

The best, though, was saved for last in the utterly monstrous Funeralopolis, which came with deeply apt mushroom cloud projections and finally saw them pick up the pace in its vicious, turbocharged back end.

Forget tinnitus, this was the type of crushing finale which left you craving an entire new skull. In truth, anything less would constituted have let down!