"Speak Loudly, Say Nothing"

By Earthdog

On the surface, it seems this 2 piece from Portland must be a joke band, right? I mean ,look at the album cover... it doesn't exactly say "serious" does it? Pressing play on this sometimes bizarre, sometimes psychedelic, sometimes stoner, sludge and doom, heterogeneous mixture of an album and you get one of strangest, avant-garde releases of recent years. The truth is, once you get used to these five tracks, you realize there are some really good things happening - it just takes time to appreciate it. Wizard Rifle seem to have their own little, quirky niche within the sludge metal scene happening. They are progressive at times but also indulge in their own fair share of minimalism.  The band write experimental songs that are challenging to listen to. I found myself dismissing the album on the first spin, it was too weird and frankly, I just wasn't in the mood for the eclectic free-for-all they unleash and I suggest many other people will also find this a slighty irritating album to try to absorb. It is not that they do anything really complex but the way they dance around different musical genres without really nailing any of them is , let's say ...... awkward.

Nothing about this is normal either. Even though they may strike a Black Sabbath vibe here and there, there is nothing remotely Sabbathian. There are passages which have a Mastodon feeling about them but again, you could hardly compare the two bands. The main ingredient to all this chaos is sludge metal... big, fuzzy, discordant, and most the time, noisy as hell itself. There are a lot of intense, thrashy sludge passages that mingle with inflections of prog-rock and slower doom metal sections. Two of the five tracks are centered around a lot of noise-rock for the want of a better term. These two tracks, 'Nobody' and EP opener 'Tears Won't Soften Steel' combine various variations of the sludge-metal genre interwoven with quirky bits and pieces and it never settles down in any one direction. After a while, this becomes a sore point for me.  They just never get a groove happening but it is never through lack of talent as this band is indeed gifted in their own way.

Perhaps the best track overall is track three titled 'Megatherium' because  they do hit upon a sludge-doom hybrid with immediate hooks and good riffs. They managed to combine every element into the closing track, the 10 minute 'Leathery Gentlemen' which even features blast beats. Hard to say who will like this album but I think it is the open-minded sludge metal fan looking for something completely different that will most likely find this an enjoyable outing. Fans of death-doom, traditional and funeral doom will hate it and if you are an old-school heavy metal fan, just forget it, this will send you up the wall within minutes. I can't fault the band for their musicianship qualities, nor their experimental, visionary attitude. I just don't know who to recommend this to, you will have to hear it for yourself....6/10