A band whose creative process has often been as lethargic as their drawn-out doom dirges, Electric Wizard surprised many fans when they announced the imminent release of their fourth album, Let Us Prey a mere year and a half after 2000s monolithic Dopethrone -- itself preceded by nearly four years of silence. Probably for this very reason, Let Us Prey weighs in at a comparatively trim 45 minutes or so and makes for a significantly easier meal to digest than its epic predecessor; but it also falls short of Dopethrone in delivering what many consider to be the final word in doom metal. In fact, it appears that, having stuffed those four years of frustration into Dopethrone's perfectly colossal mass, the world's most doleful trio used Let Us Prey to take a concerted step back from the edge, and allow themselves the privilege to explore a few new directions. A good case in point, first track "A Chosen Few" immediately finds them scaling back their extreme volume and feedback in order to make room for added guitar textures; and second offering "We, the Undead" sees them stepping on the gas and embarking upon a manic thrash-out the likes of which they've rarely attempted (topped by ultra-distorted screaming from singer Jus Osborn). Both are also uncharacteristically short and to the point, but the two-part instrumental "Master of Alchemy: I. House of Whipchord/II. The Black Drug" is more familiar. At nearly ten minutes, it resurrects the vintage, head nodding Wizard of old, and may just qualify as the greatest incidental horror movie soundtrack ever committed to tape. Sadly, its also the album's last unquestionable winner, as subsequent stoner epics "The Outsider" and "Priestess of Mars," while still offering plenty of doom for your buck, start to sound somewhat automatic and recycled. Also, separating the two is an eyebrow-raising anomaly called "Night of the Shape" consisting of piano and saxophone mood music (shock!) splayed out over a nearly electronic drumbeat. Ultimately, Let Us Prey's riskier experiments and occasional inconsistencies, however small, are bound to disappoint Electric Wizard fanatics accustomed to magnum opus after magnum opus; but the fact of the matter is that it still leaves most competitors coughing in the band's pot smoke.
Let Us Prey Review
by Eduardo Rivadavia