After spending some time with Triumph Of Gloom, I’m increasingly of the opinion that Rebel Wizard are one of the most exciting bands in the black metal underground. That’s not necessarily because the one-man act take their music in to new, bold, unexplored regions, but it’s more because their brand of Heavy Negative Wizard Metal (or, put another way, mix of heavy, black, and thrash metal) is so energetic, so infectious, so, well, fun that it can’t help but be exciting. It generates a similar thrill to the first time you heard Reign In Blood, or British Steel, or whatever album it was that saw you bitten by the metal bug. If this sounds like high praise, that’s because it is. Triumph Of Gloom is an example of practically all that makes metal good, and it’s hard not to resist its charms.
There’s a lot of different elements at play on Triumph Of Gloom, keeping it an interesting, varied listen. Built upon a solid foundation of black-thrash and heavy metal riffs and high tempo drums, the album also possesses more than its fair share of excellent leads and solos, which give the songs a lot of their character and charm. When combined with the vicious, raw black metal vocals, it’s hard not to get swept up in the whirlwind created, designed for headbanging and raised fists. There’s a flamboyance, an arrogant “fuck you!” attitude throughout, that only adds to its charm. The excellent production helps, too; this is a record where every riff and lead comes through cleanly, albeit with just the right level of dirt and nastiness.
There are times when Rebel Wizard do move in distinctly adventurous, challenging directions though. “A Spell Of Sorrow To Relieve The Curse Of Triumph” is so full of ideas and different movements that it feels like a mini-epic unto itself. But aside from this track, the way that tracks such as “Eat The Warlock” place the guitar leads and solos to the fore, pushing the vocals back in the mix, also feels slightly experimental, and at points it feels like Triumph Of Gloom isn’t far away from being an almost instrumental black-thrash album. For most bands, that would be a criticism, but Rebel Wizard’s music is so exciting and captivating that it’s actually quite the compliment here.
It is an exhausting listen though, with so many different elements vying for attention and the music often being at such high tempos. Even though it ends on a slower note, with the drawn-out, mid-tempo “Hemorrhage Wonders”, it’s not an album I find myself listening to several times in a row, simply because I can’t quite handle that much intensity – and that’s not an inherently bad thing. Instead, it highlights just how daring and punishing an album Triumph Of Gloom is. Combined with that sense of excitement it generates, it makes Triumph Of Gloom something I’ll keep coming back to and think very highly of, even if it does have a certain spikiness to it that’s all too rare in black metal these days. It also feels like a big step up from previous releases, and at this rate, it’s a little intimidating to consider just how great future Rebel Wizards could be. Either way though, Triumph Of Gloom is highly recommended, and should see the band reach the bigger audience they deserve.
Triumph Of Gloom can be streamed, downloaded, and purchased on CD-R (limited to 30 copies) via Bandcamp.