Rebel Wizard makes the kind of music that even metalheads should be scared of
Starting in 2013, Rebel Wizard as a project was and continues to be a marvel in metal, with a charming approach to heavy music with the same taste for humor and satire that bands such as Mr. Bungle and GWAR incorporated in the 1990’s. Bob Nekrasov, also known as NKSV, the Australian musician behind Rebel Wizard, holds no reservations about his take on the truly limiting nature of genre labels. With the release of Magickal Mystical Indifference, the over-the-top aesthetics and sensibilities of black metal and power metal are fused with NKSV’s obvious love and appreciation for the late ’70s new wave of British heavy metal, brought on by Judas Priest and Iron Maiden.
That being said, let’s break apart what makes this album what it is. The artwork cover and confusing album title help set the scene for the mysticism that unfolds, with the almost indecipherable lyrics and vocals, as well as the absolutely insane amount of styles and sounds covered on the album.
The obvious myriad of thrash, power, black and heavy metal influences are demonstrated right from the get-go, on the opening track “heavy negative wizard metal in-fucking-excelsis,” which showcases a fantastic song title as well as some flashy guitar soloing. This style of guitar-heavy riffage and writing is not just unique to the opening track, as it bleeds over into many of the following tracks on the record, including the singles “the mind is not your friend” and “raiseth up all those that be bowed down.”
On the other hand, the disgustingly raw and vicious vocals featured on the previously mentioned tracks scream, quite literally, of the burgeoning, early 1990’s Norwegian black metal scene and its massive influence on not just NKSV, but many bands and genres crossing from indie-rock/shoegaze, such as Deafheaven, to post-punk and ambient outfits, like Have A Nice Life. Quite honestly, there is some resemblance of both aforementioned bands, with the album cover at least sharing some similarities with Deafheaven’s masterwork, Sunbather (2013).
The album displays its black metal and even noise influences on tracks such as “urination of vapidity on consciousness,” featuring another amazing song title and a very Full of Hell-sounding assault of noise. Frankly, the album rarely breaks from this style of switching between the harsher songs and the more ‘conventional’ style of songwriting, with the exception being interludes of ambient soundscapes, vocal samples or noisey radio static that cuts in between tracks and sections alike.
Proceeding his 2018 full-length, Voluptuous Worship of Rapture and Response, Rebel Wizard has very maturely, in one of the more cheeky and interesting ways possible, demonstrated the ridiculous nature of metal, particularly the notorious gatekeeping communities that surround black metal. With Magickal Mystical Indifference, NKSV shows why metal should and shouldn’t be taken seriously, but not without imperfections.
Albeit a highly unique and fun presentation of some of the most inaccessible music (the vocals are highly unrelenting and punishing, even for the most die-hard fans of harsh noise and emoviolence), Magickal Mystical Indifference comes off, very unfortunately, as unfinished or worse, uninspired. The potential found on the album is abundant and not hard to find at all, with just the personal desire that it was fleshed out in a far more convincing and matter-of-fact fashion.
That being said, the music at its highest point is amazing and in it’s lowest is lazy, which is by no stretch the qualifications for a project, let alone a full-length release to be considered bad. Besides the music, the general aesthetic and imagery of Magickal Mystical Indifference, such as the lower-case song titles that harken back to mid-2000’s Myspace-emo and late ’90s emotive hardcore, as well as the superb imagery and photography, are surely something to write home about in their own right.