“Heavy negative wizard metal” is certainly a distinctive descriptor, and it’s one that can only be applied to a single band. B. Nekrasov, under the guise of Rebel Wizard, has recently been carving out his own niche within the underground, with his combination of raw, black-thrash fury and classic metal, guitar heroics. Rejecting the inherent absurdity of heavy metal as much as it embraces it, delighting in the excesses of the genre with undeniably enjoyable results, the latest album, Voluptous Worship of Rapture and Response, is the most accessible album Rebel Wizard have released. The hyper-speed guitars have been cleaned up slightly, but the core sound of Rebel Wizard is otherwise unchanged. It’s a good thing too, as just like on early releases such as Invocation of the Miserable Ones and Triumph of Gloom, this is energetic, absurd, and a hell of a lot of fun, with layer after layer of heavy metal triumph, almost to the point of excess. Almost.
A quick glance at the song titles and the genre self-descriptor might suggest that Rebel Wizard are something of a joke band.  And yet, even a short encounter with the music dispels any such notions. Put simply, you don’t play this fast, or with such technical ability, if you’re not serious about what you’re doing. These songs are multi-layered and dense, with riffs and guitar leads darting in and out nimbly, forever restless and yet never coming across as a mess or unfocused. And the guitars really are the focus here, though the production is slightly cleaner than on previous releases, they still have real teeth; the riffs are vicious, the leads are filled with hooks, and each song is graced by solos of the kind that will get any metal fan’s heart beating faster. It may not sound anything like Judas Priest or Metallica or Iron Maiden, but Voluptuous Worship of Rapture and Response conjures that same sense of excitement as when your teenage-self first heard classic albums like Screaming for Vengeance or The Number of the Beast.
Here’s “Eat The Warlock” from 2016’s Triumph of Gloom.
The one thing that may be off-putting for fans, though, are the vocals. They have always been raw, and the most clear link with Rebel Wizard’s music to underground black metal, and given how relatively clean and clear the guitars are, the vox’s harsh static fuzz feels even more pronounced than before. Even whilst songs such as “Majestic Mystical Burdens”, “Healing the Chakras with Heavy Negative Wizard Metal” and, standout track, “Drunk on the Wizdom of Unicorn Semen” summon the spirit of classic heavy metal with their leads and solos, the vocals come across as bursts of harsh noise that add something truly hostile and almost off-putting to Rebel Wizard’s sound; a burst of pure negativity, words lost to the void, meaning put across by sound rather than language.
And that, really, sums up the contradiction of Rebel Wizard, and this album. The music is – for extreme metal – accessible, immediate, and hugely enjoyable. And yet the vocals are the very opposite of this: intentionally crude and as harsh as possible, off-putting and repellent in ways that feel diametrically opposed to the actual music of Voluptuous Worship of Rapture and Response. The way that Rebel Wizard revels in the excesses of metal does mean that the music can become, well, excessive. There’s a very real risk that the non-stop barrage of speed, leads, and harsh vocals simply becomes too much, and towards the end of the album it can become almost draining. Whilst closer “Exhaustive Glory” may be more mid-tempo, it’s hard not to feel that the title of the song is an apt description for the album as a whole, and that it would have benefited from having such a track come earlier in the running order. Even so, despite its flaws (and assuming you’re not repelled by the vocals), Voluptuous Worship of Rapture and Response is hugely enjoyable and addictive. Fans of Rebel Wizard’s previous records will lap this up; and, for newcomers, this is a prime place to jump in.
The video for the standout, bizarrely-named “Drunk on the Wizdom of Unicorn Semen”.
Voluptuous Worship of Rapture and Response Track Listing:
01. Persisting as It Does
02. The Prophecy Came and It Was Soaked with the Common Fools Forboding
03. High Mastery of the Woeful Arts
04. Drunk on the Wizdom of Unicorn Semen
05. The Poor and Ridiculous Alchemy of Christ and Lucifer and Us All
06. Mother Nature, Oh My Sweet Mistress, Showed Me the Other Worlds and It Was Just Fallacy
07. Majestic Mystical Burdens
08. Healing the Chakras with Heavy Negative Wizard Metal
09. Voluptuous Worship of Rapture and Response
10. Exhaustive Glory
Run Time: 44:14 Release Date: August 17, 2018 Record Label: Prosthetic Records
1. Something perhaps not helped by the CD-R for The Early Years of Negative Wizard Metal being packaged in a nappy.