Levitation Review: Electric Wizard, Russian Circles, the Well

Doom for the ages

When Sound On Sound cancelled last year, it robbed Austin heshers of the hotly anticipated return of Electric Wizard. Last seen locally at Emo’s Jr. in 2001, the Dorset-born doomsters have grown in stature and influence since then, thrillingly demonstrated by Friday night’s slaying of a sold-out Stubb’s.

Electric Wizard, Stubb’s, 4.27.18 (Photo by David Brendan Hall)

The audience erupted as the fourpiece took the stage under cover of darkness and a montage of sleazy Seventies horrotica filled the overhead shell. Despite abundant frontal nudity on the screen above it, the crowd found the band more compelling. Laying down riffs thick enough to stop bullets and rolling forward like a tank through a DMZ, the band gave a primer in the art of doom metal, obscuring its drugs- and hate-obsessions with Jus Oborn’s contemptuous sneer.

A not-so-subtle nod to bandleaders Oborn and Liz Buckingham’s interest in the occult, “Witchcraft Today” set the tone immediately: darkness is coming, so get high and open the Necronomicon. Playing only “See You in Hell” from last year’s Wizard Bloody Wizard, the tight-knit unit surveyed its long, celebrated career with what would be a greatest hits set if it had any. Starving American fans got just what they wanted: recent favorites (“Black Mass,” “The Chosen Few”), classic cuts (“Return Trip,” Wizard manifesto “Dopethrone”), and it eardrums destroyed by distortion-lathered amplifier abuse.

Closing with apocalyptic screed “Funeralopolis,” complete with a mushroom cloud timed to the song’s end, Electric Wizard showed itself not just the heir to inspirations Black Sabbath and Venom, but their equal.

Priming the pump first, the Well proved themselves practically Austin’s answer to EW, powered by a similar combo of acidic riffs and comic book occultism. The past several years on the road have turned the local trio into a well-oiled powerhouse. “Black Eyed Gods” and mission statement “Eternal Well” made the band new friends.

Sandwiched between opener and headliner, Chicago’s Russian Circles come at doom from an arty, instrumental angle. Putting a post-rock-adjacent trio directly before Electric Wizard seemed challenging, but RC rose to the occasion, its soaring anthems and machine-shop crunch connecting with the crowd like an arrow to the bull’s-eye.

Electric Wizard set-list, Stubb’s, 4.27.18

“Witchcult Today”
“Black Mass”
“Return Trip”
“See You in Hell”
“Incense for the Damned”
“Satanic Rites of Drugula”
“The Chosen Few”

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Levitation 2018, Electric Wizard, Russian Circles, The Well, Black Sabbath, Venon, Sound on Sound, Dopethrone

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