Black metal can be such an interesting genre. There are so many different ways to take the sound. You can be fairly straightforward and make the most evil sounding music possible and follow in the footprints of our Norwegian forefathers; you can just go heavy on the imagery but make fairly accessible metal a la Venom; you can get atmospheric and create a more environmental sound the completely enraptures you. Or you can tell all that stuff to fuck off and get really weird with it. Such is the path chosen by Rebel Wizard, a one man project from Ferny Creek, Australia. The latest record, Voluptuous worship of rapture and response, is just the latest example of this unique take on the genre.
Rebel Wizard describes the project as “heavy negative wizard metal.” It would be hard to describe what you’re hearing at all, let alone with this moniker. But you’ve got to start somewhere and that’s as good a place as any. Wizard takes a lot of different influences from metal and combines them into a very experimental sound. It’s kind of an atmospheric take on first wave black metal. The actual music Wizard makes is very accessible, but there’s this environment around it that can make it sound very atmospheric. On top of that, the songwriting has a unique take, often bouncing around and never really returning to central themes of the song. The vocals also sound extremely distorted and are often mixed in the tracks underneath the instruments, so you can never really hear them unless Rebel wants you to. Nothing about this album is traditional at all. It’s painstakingly created specifically to sound unique.
What’s so interesting about this record is how Rebel Wizard combines the accessible with the inaccessible. We all know black metal tends to be the most out of reach for most listeners, but that’s what makes it so great. This has things that could turn off even the most ardent black metal fans. Like a lot of black metal, there’s no bass to this record to speak of. If it’s there, most couldn’t hear it. It has this tinny tone to it that’s very characteristic to the guitar tones, but it’s part of the entire record. It’s like applying an Instagram filter to a sound. It’s a very interesting production decision.
Look no further than “The poor and ridiculous alchemy of Christ and Lucifer and us all”. Obviously a great title to start with, but what’s best is the pure songwriting and audio showmanship. It’s got this clear menacing vibe while the Wizard is absolutely shredding through a tinny high gain guitar amp. That leads into what can only be described as an orchestral guitar bridge. The song returns to the riffy beginning section while heavily distorted vocals cut in that are completely unintelligible. This is the ideal black metal sound: densely packed evil guitar riffs underneath heavy shredding while a kind of incomprehensible incantation is taking place. This is the very height of metal drama and exactly what most metal fans would want.
What especially great about finding this record is discovering the prolific songwriting nature of Rebel Wizard. The back catalog only stretches to a 2013 demo, Voluptuous worship of rapture and response is the band’s 12th release. It’s definitely worth the research to dive into it. Beyond that, the sound this band creates is intriguing. It may turn some people off, but that’s exactly why underground metal fans would like it. Since not everybody likes it, there’s got to be something about it that’s fascinating. It is strongly advised you try to discover what it is.
Voluptuous Worship of Rapture and Response will be released on August 17th via Prosthetic Records. You can pre-order it by heading to the Bandcamp link above. Hail Satan.