Album Review: Rebel Wizard – Triumph of Gloom

NKSV, the one-man army behind Rebel Wizard

Bob Nekrasov, the Australian musician who records under the name NKSV is a man hell-bent on unleashing his fury upon the world.  Under the name Nekrasov, his fury is a frantic and foreboding wave of black metal.  Rebel Wizard is the name under which he lashes out at the world with a unique brand of nihilistic metal he calls “negative wizard metal.”  The forthcoming 2017 LP Triumph of Gloom features a sonic assault that lives up to its epic name.

Opening with the track “On The Unknown Self They Weep”, Nekrasov establishes the core belief of negative metal: There is no real purpose for you being alive.  What are you here for anyway?  We’re nothing.  Soft vocal samples layered over blistering riffs and harmonized guitars answer an intriguing, albeit unasked question – What if Rob Zombie had been the producer on Iron Maiden‘s Powerslave?

There is a lot to say about “Where We Surrender Completely To The Miserable Shaman.”  I’m an absolute sucker for songs with absurdly long titles, and this one is no exception.  This track follows the high flying NWOBHM sound of “On The Unknown Self They Weep” with full-bore thrash.  Nekrasov’s vocals run the gamut from a banshee’s wail to a demon’s growl.  The song builds to a breakdown that would have sounded right at home on Metallica‘s Kill ‘Em All before diving straight back into sonic anarchy.

“Trampled By Wolves and Sheep” was my first introduction to this album.  Listening to a clip on YouTube was enough to sell me on this album.  The lead riff is incredible, the cutting attack of unintelligible vocals and blast beats barrel this out of control truck straight through a guardrail to certain doom – only to take flight in an incredible, Joe Satriani-esque guitar solo before starting it all over again.

While “Ease of Wretchedness And Wonder” is a solid track, it unfortunately comes off as an also-ran when compared to the tracks that came before it.

In contrast, “A Spell Of Sorrow To Relieve The Curse of Triumph” contrasts the NWOBHM sound of “On The Unknown Self They Weep” with the thrash attack of “Where We Surrender Completely To The Miserable Shaman.”  This track also lives up to the songs-with-long-titles standard.

“Eat The Warlock” returns to full-speed thrash.  The rhythm on this track reminds me of something between Metallica’s Ride The Lightning and Slayer‘s Reign in Blood played back at triple speed. What I love the most is the lead guitar work, which reminds me very much of one of my favorite bands of all time, Bang Camaro, and the riffs from their track “Rock of Mages.”

The next track, “Sorcerery” (no, that’s not a typo), features wonderful harmonized guitar work.  Nekrasov features a very distinct guitar tone that lets each note stand out in its own glory.  Be sure to look out for some fantastic backmasked guitar as well.

The longest track on the album, “Hemorrhage Wonders”, is also the most repetitive.  This isn’t a problem however, as the riff that repeats throughout is excellent.  For seven minutes, this track marches the album to its inevitable conclusion.

The album’s final track, “Defenders Of The Gloom”, is a frantic blast of NWOBHM.  While listening to this album, I kept thinking of Daisuke Iwashitari‘s Guilty Gear soundtrack, and how at home so many tracks on this album would feel in a video game.  This track may be the best example of that connection.

In summation, Triumph of Gloom is a very fresh take on nihilism.  While I said Mirrors For Psychic Warfare painted a lonely picture of a frozen and dead world, Rebel Wizard’s negative wizard metal sound goes in the opposite direction.  This album is alive and chaotic, in a way that makes the listener feel so small in its universe.  The chaos of this album was thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish.

Best Track: “Where We Surrender Completely To The Miserable Shaman”, followed closely by “Trampled By Wolves And Sheep”

Worst Track: “Ease of Wretchedness And Wonder” failed to hit me the way the other tracks on the album did.

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