Wizard Rifle - Here in the Deadlights
Seventh Rule Recordings
Sludge Rock/Metal
5 songs (31' 46")
Release year: 2014
Seventh Rule Recordings
Reviewed by Andy

Hailing originally from my hometown of Portland, Oregon, though now relocating to New York, Wizard Rifle has a sound that is hard to categorize, but bears some resemblance to the chaotic experimentation of The Melvins. Their latest album, Here in the Deadlights, is just as hard to categorize, but it's messy; it's not a terrible album, but it definitely requires repeated listens to get one's head around it.

Starting with an echoing but quiet mount of guitar noise, Crystal Witch never gets any less abrasive, even though the melody is clear. Drummer Sam Ford does the vocal duties, roaring out atonal blasts of vocals to the sound of Max Dameron's noisy, heavily layered guitar. At times the guitar work has clear sludge influences, but in between everything just kind of devolves into a tide of background noise; somehow Ford's drums are miked in such a way that they have the crashing, in-your-face punch that Led Zeppelin's John Bonham was always able to achieve. The song ends quietly in the same way it started, leading into Buzzsaw Babes, which is somewhat of a retro mishmash of punk and early experimental rock, played at a fast trot and with howling vocals at times. Paul the Sky Tyrant, despite its initial swinging stoner-doom riff, definitely has a sound I'd associate with Portland; something about the combination of the vocals and riffs, which move from clear and sharp, to grunting and confused, to an echoing set of harmonies at the end.

Psychodynamo starts quietly and ominously with chanted vocals, but soon the guitars kick in. I liked the riffs on this one, which have a groove reminiscent of a somewhat sped-up Crowbar, if they played with a trebly overdrive on their guitars. The final track, Beastwhores, is oddly like slow, twisted surf music played with a distortion pedal; the harmonized vocals clash grimly with the echoing song of the guitar, still with the same kinds of groovy riffing heard on the previous track, but even faster until its final abrupt halt.

Despite the clear talent one can see here, I have to admit that it was hard for me to get into Here in the Deadlights. There's so much noise and alternative-music experimentalism that it's often hard to feel the same driving force many metal albums impart to both their music and the listener. After a few listens I kind of got used to what Wizard Rifle is doing. It's interesting to listen to for a few spins, though after that, it seems unlikely that it will end up getting back on my playlist.

Bandcamp: http://releases.seventhrule.com/album/here-in-the-deadlights

Killing Songs :
Psychodynamo
Andy quoted 70 / 100
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