If you aren’t familiar with Rebel Wizard, I regret to inform you that you are required to have a good time and educate yourself immediately. Located at the intersection of black and thrash, this album hoons through the intersection like only an Australian wearing a wizard hat shredding epic solos while car surfing could. Magickal Mystical Indifference is the album that you blast through your open windows while taking corners too fast for the rest of the summer. I agree with the title of the first track: “Heavy negative wizard metal in-fucking-excelsis” indeed.
Festooned with images of NKSV (the moniker used by Bob Nekrosov, the musician behind Rebel Wizard) with a guitar and wearing a wizard hat, the promo makes clear what’s obvious: Rebel Wizard, as a project, isn’t one to be taken too seriously. Yet it is quite obviously a creative labour of love. Heavy negative wizard metal is what he calls it, while unironically arguing that labels are simply pointless restrictions. I get it. If you don’t like labels, make one up that you feel represents you directly. I guarantee you no one else is making heavy negative wizard metal.
I can’t really tell you what the album is about, because I am naturally bad at understanding lyrics, and with the vocal effects being used, I have zero chance of understanding any of the lyrics on this album. But with song names like “urination of vapidity on consciousness” and “the mind is not your friend”, I feel confident that the album wears its heart on its sleeve. What I can tell you though is that the album is fast, flashy, and has hooks for days. With the exception of the aforementioned “urination of vapidity on consciousness”, which is a borderline atonal noise assault, every song is going to want to make you bang your head, tap your foot, and throw elbows in your socially distanced mosh pit.
I can tell you that heavy negative wizard metal is an alloy formed of black metal and golden thrash. It is bombastic and over the top, like a metal voltron formed from everything the ‘80s and ‘90s produced. It’s more thrash than anything else, but when you mix in the vocals, production style, and the odd musical flourish, you can feel the ragged influence of black metal. Of course, you can also sense NWOBHM, power metal, you name it. Magickal Mystical Indifference is obviously the result of loving and listening to as much metal as possible.
That being said, Rebel Wizard doesn’t care about your production demands. Rebel Wizard doesn’t care if you think that their fast and loose production is rough around the edges. NKSV does exactly one thing: make music that appeals to him, when it appeals to him, and how it appeals to him. And it works. The promo was a mix of 128kbit and 160kbit mp3 and I can’t even complain. I remember a moment on the last album where I thought my bluetooth headphones were broken, but nope. It really was just bits of weird static and occasionally clipping signals. The same is true on this album, but it literally doesn’t matter. Between the harshly overdriven vocal channel and the intensely dense mix, it sounds cohesive and intentional. While lo-fi production has effectively been ruined by boring indie-rock and “low pass in the mids” black metal, Rebel Wizard captures the essence of what it should actually be.
Of course, the final mix is only part of the picture. It’s the frayed edge of a tapestry woven together with silky smooth leads, articulately driven rhythm guitar, atmospheric soundscapes, and creatively programmed drums. The ghosted image of the vocals give a semblance of meaning to barely controlled chaos. The lead guitar soars across the entire album, forming countless memorable passages, with moments of harmony that evoke some of the best heavy metal has to offer. The solos are so fast you can feel that the guitarist is on the razor’s edge of losing it which just adds to the energy. For all the rough edges, this is an album that just sounds good, crafted by someone who has a good ear.
Ultimately, whatever you want to call it, Magickal Mystical Indifference is a mandatory do-not-miss album in a year that continues to be jam packed with amazing musical offerings. Rebel Wizard does something no one else does, and continues to get better with each new release. This one is definitely their best, and given their prolific nature, I suspect it won’t be long till we hear something even better. In the meantime I’m going to go do donuts in a parking lot until someone calls the police.