The biggest surprise here is, indeed, that this whirlwind of sound is produced by only two people. Wizard Rifle, or more precisely drummer/vocalist Sam Ford and guitarist/vocalist Max Dameron, seemingly effortlessly manage to sound like a four/five-piece band.
Judging from past album covers, song titles (Tears Won’t Soften Steel, Caveman Waltz) and band photos, the duo from Portland, Oregon don’t take themselves (or their audience) too seriously and are quite fond of the occasional joke. The album at hand is their third full-length release since their inception in 2009, but this is my first encounter with the band.
What can I tell you about them? Well, their sound definitely isn’t something you come across every day. Let’s stay with the image of the whirlwind: While the album cover looks like the result of a tornado going through an autumnal garden, thereby unearthing long lost things and strange creatures that normally live underground, the music, similarly, sounds like a storm blew together different subgenres of heavy music. Primarily, this is noise, but with a good portion of thrash and psychedelia, punk and sludge. Sounds unusual? That’s because it is. The vocals add even more variation, since both band members sing (in one way or other).
The five-track album kicks off with Rocket to Hell. From there, the tempest rolls and thunders along, with a few psychedelic breaks. The lyrics are mostly unintelligible, but the bits I did understand, suggest end-times themes. The doom awaiting humanity is presented with gallows humour, however, which makes it easier to digest. In any case, in a time with a record number of wildfires and burning rainforests lyrics about having “a feeling that no one is going to save us from ourselves” definitely ring true.
The album’s best track and my favourite is its closer, V. It is quite a formidable finale. The band is, once more, giving everything they’ve got and apparently saying that while we can’t prevent going down, we might as well go down screaming and kicking.
Apart from being unusual sounding, this is overflowing with energy and has got a tongue-in-cheek element. I liked the album, and I imagine Wizard Rifle are a blast live. The references the press info lists, such as Lightning Bolt and High on Fire, are fine, but I would add Refused. Because this is really new noise. Definitely worth a listen.