I can’t tell you how often I am drawn to a band based on name alone. Since that’s almost all I got when I view the sea of potential albums to review for this site, a name is everything, and I’ll be damned if Wizard Rifle didn’t call out to me like my mother did when the street lights came on and I was outside doing ignorant stuff with my friends. The Oregon band harnesses hyperaction in a wily manner so as to elude classification and that’s fine by me; suffice it to say their self-titled effort is just as fun and adventurous as their name implies.
Actually, hold on, because the band definitely has their own descriptors and I wanna respect that. So, the band labels their own music as ‘art-fuck scrap metal’, ‘psychic trash’, and ‘sexadelica’. If it weren’t for the ever-present ‘noise’ and ‘metal’ tags, I’d mistake those previous three tags as C-budget movie titles being covered on Red Letter Media. These tags show two things: Wizard Rifle – if you couldn’t tell from their name alone – aren’t into being taken too seriously, and their music is going to be a lot.
I was all in with the name, so actually listening to this self-titled project was a real treat. There’s so much energy on it. It keeps moving and morphing so you’re never truly at rest. Longer song lengths blow by in what feels like half the time. “Rocket to Hell” lights the fuse to the whole experience, doubling down on groove and rampant liveliness that pervades the rest of the album. The guitars have a deserty grit to them, the vocals are yelled for minutes on end; it really is akin to a careening rocket ride through the stratosphere. The thing I like the most about this music is the stoner metal-esque measures that focus on driving songs forward in a catchy and punchy way.
“Caveman Waltz” does nothing to assuage that feeling either. Using climbing riffs and rapid-fire rhythms, if this is a waltz, it’s happening at double time and your dance partner is a very attractive personification of pandemonium. There’s usually some multilayering of guitars going on which gives tracks appreciated depth and plays to the stoned-out spaciness of it all. Everything comes together in an eventful setpiece, “Funeral of the Sun”. It’s over twelve minutes long making it a progressive beast that’s pretty busy. Reverb-soaked, atmospheric interludes with spoken word bridge together blazing, planet-sized verse sections that aim to combust your speakers with heat. It’s a song that slams you up against some hard cosmic guardrails as you traverse through beautiful backdrops of sound, so any expectations are best curbed so you can just enjoy the ride.
There’s two other songs here, “Beneath the Spider” and “V”, both of which are definitely worthy of discussion (especially that psychedelic outro to the former), but it’s likely enough to tell you that they offer no break in the fun. Even when Wizard Rifle are forced to slow things down and reload on zeal, it always serves the greater mood of a track. The overall sense of this album is that it goes beyond what any genre label can encompass, and that’s inspiring. It’s no wonder they arrive at colorful descriptors like ‘art-fuck scrap metal’ and ‘psychic trash’ which, as cheeky as they are, do help show you their kaleidoscopic range of heavy musical expression. As far as ‘sexadelica’…well, I’ll leave that up to your interpretation.
Wizard Rifle are great at capturing entropy, strapping a vivid, noisy metal aesthetic to it, and letting it loose. It feels treacherous, like being on an adventure you’re not entirely sure you’ll return safely from, but the adrenaline keeps you laughing in the face of peril the whole time. Their self-titled album embodies a personal vigor that I love to see in any music and they never betray it in order to be more palatable or less weird. If you value spacey fun that’s heavy and ceaseless, you’d do well to check this out.