“HEAVY NEGATIVE WIZARD METAL” proudly proclaims the Facebook page for one-man Australian act Rebel Wizard. It’s certainly an eye-catching description – the kind that hints at all sorts of things without giving much away – but there’s no denying that Inovcation Of The Miserable Ones is possessed by both a negative energy, and the undiluted spirit of heavy metal. Or, more accurately, HEAVY METAL, mixed with blackened thrash similar to the likes of Aura Noir. Each of the four tracks on this EP is an energetic blast, simultaneously thrilling and negative in their auras, that is sure to get heads banging with its utterly unapologetic flamboyance and style.
Right from instrumental introductory track “Too Late”, Invocation… wastes no time in throwing you in to a whirling, restless sea of high-energy riffs, leads and drums, undoubtedly energetic and enjoyable, but also with a lurking darkness and malevolence at the edges. It’s a feeling that persists throughout the four tracks on the EP, meaning that no matter how frantic and electrifying the music is – and for sure, it most certainly is – there’s always the slight sense that it’s hair-raising not just because it’s so high-tempo and invigorating, but because of the skulking negativity behind it all. As an example of how relevant and riveting traditional heavy metal can still be, it is excellent; but as an example of how to combine those thrills with something darker and more insidious, it is superb.
Highlights abound through the record. Each lead feels fresh and gripping, especially when the classic Maiden-esque dual-guitar leads pop up on as on “On The Unknown Self They Ride”. The riffs are high-energy, with black metal flourishes ensuring they do not stay comfortable for too long; whilst the vocals are pure black metal rawness, full of venom and hate. Especially noteworthy is the closing title track, which, at eight minutes long, taps in to a similar progressive spirit as many of those classic metal records from the late seventies and early eighties (after all, it’s often forgotten or taken for granted just how progressive and forward-thinking the likes of Maiden and Priest were at the time). The longer duration gives the track plenty of time to unfold, adding extra layers and moving with dark grace through shifts in tempo and tone. It’s also a testament to the song-writing skill of sole member Nekrasov; plenty of thought and time has evidently gone in to a track as long and multi-faceted as this, and it shows. It’s also in marked contrast to the shorter, more straight-forward songs that precede it, which are markedly different, but no less worthy of praise. The title track is where the full depth and potential of the self-described “heavy negative wizard metal” becomes clear though, possessing not only the most character, but also the most promise for what is to come.
Invocation Of The Miserable Ones is a fairly short ride, but is undoubtedly one that you’ll want to repeat; over a dozen listens on, and I’m still finding that different sides and aspects of it that capture my attention each time. Whether it’s high-energy headbanging or something darker and more malevolent, there’s plenty on offer here. With five EP releases in 2015 alone (of which this is the fifth), it’s clear that Rebel Wizard are drinking from a deep pool of inspiration. Long may it continue; here’s to the next one!
Invocation Of The Miserable Ones can be streamed and downloaded via Bandcamp.