Melbourne, Australia’s Rebel Wizard is a one-man project specializing in a blackened form of the more traditional metal styles, drawing inspiration largely from power and the more melodic side of speed metal. Combine majestic soaring leads with icy, frost-bitten vocals and searing, razor-sharp production for an intoxicating formula that Rebel Wizard brews up like some sort of master alchemist well-versed in the arts of both heavy metal and chaos magic.
Anyway, back to the action: After the intro, the first two tracks do an excellent job of setting up expectations and allowing first-time listeners to acclimate to a style that essentially commands you to ride a mythical reptilian mount and battle mobs, leveling up in preparation for the real battles ahead. This isn’t to discount these tracks—“The Prophecy Came And It Was Soaked With The Common Fools Forboding” and “High Mastery Of The Woeful Arts” are absolute scorchers in their own right, but after the softer build up at the beginning of “Drunk On The Wizdom Of Unicorn Semen,” the album really opens up.
The leads, which serve as the primary secret attack of our hero, just kick the whole album to the next level. Just the right amount of reverb trails behind the attack, creating a dreamy feel around the notes played. They sync so well over the riffs delivered by the werewolf-pegasus that has apparently come to the aid of our mighty warrior as they dive together into the heart of the storm. And speaking of our hero, his character must be spec’d quite high in dual wielding, as the twin leads that whiz through the song are a formidable force to be reckoned with.
Now in the thick of the storm, “The Poor And Ridiculous Alchemy Of Christ And Lucifer And Us All” summons hordes of ravenous vampiric fairies to swarm our hero. He fends for his life, firing orbs of technicolor energy from his blistering solos as he frantically yet skillfully wields his magic against innumerable foes. The rains begin to fall at the beginning of “Mother Nature, Oh My Sweet Mistress, Showed Me The Other Worlds And It Was Just Fallacy” and our champion takes a quick breather atop a mighty mountain, defiantly surveying the dark world before him. The lone notes coming from his guitar reflect his thoughts on destiny, his dark past, or whatever it is people think atop rainy mountains with the wind blowing in their hair.
As the full band kicks in again, our hero, with his black spirit rejuvenated by the invocation of the his 80’s metal warrior ancestors, dives back into battle atop an aeronautical steed. By the time we arrive to the title track, the music begins to play out like an epic boss battle, or the resolution to some epic closing act. “Exhaustive Glory” is the album’s true closer, though, and easily the longest at roughly nine and a half minutes. It feels more like an extended epilogue—our hero rides the winds of mayhem off into the dawn to further contemplate destiny, his dark past, or whatever.
The concept behind Rebel Wizard’s style is a bit of a gamble, but it’s a toss of the twenty-sided die that rolls like a critical hit to the nuts. Soaring power metal and harsh black metal are about as polar opposite as anything on the metal sub-genre spectrum, yet Voluptuous Worship Of Rapture And Response pulls it off with ease. Rebel Wizard’s sophomore full length absolutely deserves a place amongst some of the most enjoyable black metal to be found this year.