Review: Rebel Wizard – 'Invocation Of The Miserable Ones'

So, Rebel Wizard is a one man band that has produced this four track EP called ‘The Invocation Of The Miserable Ones’. Those of you following this journey will know of the Melbourne musician who prolifically records under the name of ‘Nekrasov’, and has done so, on and off, since 1997. To be honest, there was a lot of ‘off’, but when he is ‘on’, the output is prodigious. Having a couple of Nekrasov cassettes under your belt is a bit of a badge of honour, because it’s out-there, traditional thrash.

Normally I don’t bother you with the PR blurb that comes with artists work, but in this case I think it’s important, because it’s a bit of a manifesto of what Rebel Wizard is all about. This is: “music which he describes as ‘New wave of Negative Metal’ or ‘Negative Wizard Metal’, and is fairly unique in an era where metal in the underground tends to be more conservative. The music combines a range of styles but is best described as ‘blackened traditional heavy metal”.

So lets simplify that for you. The artist here grew up in a world of no internet and bands being experiemental. This music is a rebellion against the cookie-cutter world of music and, in many ways, the failure of metal and punk to challenge like it did in his early days. That’s my take, because in this music I can hear the wail of Crass, Econochrist and, to a lesser extent, Born Again. Straight up, anti-whatever-you-got, punk. In that mindset, Rebel Wizard is perhaps setting out to challenge and polarise.

Let me give you an example of that polarisation where you will either love or hate this EP, with nothing in between. The riffs and lead work on this is pure 80’s thrash, both mental and killer. The work is sublime. However, the vocals are just lyricless static, fired across the top of the mix. So, given Track One is a three minute instrumental which goes off without a hitch or surprise, the second track is where we first hear the vocals, and I thought my headphones were half plugged in. But no, on Track Two, ‘A Place To Rest The Dead Inside Is Never To Be’, it all becomes apparent. It’s asking us to read that title and decide on what the lyrics are, and what the song is about, because they are completely incomprehensible from white noise.

Again on Track Three, we have the song title that appeared to be have been created by an Internet name generator in, ‘On The Unknown Self They Ride’. Same deal… great riffs, but gibberish lyrics put through distortion to the extent that a power tool may invoke the same effect. Thats not a criticism, as I firmly believe that the non-lyrics and the bizarre song names are there to create a mystique and questioning by the listener, urging them to create the meaning behind the song. However, most listeners are likely to utter a ‘WTF!’ and wander off, given that people are attracted by the groove but sustained by the lyric and their meaning.

By the fourth and final track, ‘Invocation Of The Miserable Ones’, its all become a bit samey, however, the outro on this track, and the breakaway guitar, are excellent.

I think that this EP hits its mark, in as much as it harks back to a time when albums were being produced by bands multiple times in a year, and they were uncompromising. The ‘Rebel’ in this is the fact that we are rebelling against the perceived weakness in the metal scene to push the boundaries. The Wizard part in this I can’t describe as I can’t find any magic here.

Normally, I make a recommendation on whether it’s worth your while to fork out your dosh on a purchase. In reality, I think the Rebel Wizard may be surprised if you did, but welcome it if you could. I have no doubt that he is aware that the marketability of this is approaching zero, but he continues and for that, as an old punk, I’m happy for him. I’m sure that he has heard many times from PRs and record companies that the riffs are blinding but the vocals, or lack thereof, make it a no go. Sustain the rage!

Review: Craig Grant

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