Portland, OR duo Wizard Rifle make the future of guitars appear bright, or at least a little less dim than it currently looks. After three years of performing, the band has finally put forth their debut Speak Loud Say Nothing, an eclectic mixture of jam-centric stoner rock, elaborate riffage, and noise-laced antics. These characteristics broadly equate to an extraordinarily heavy sound, but within that heaviness is an array of influences. Drawing comparisons isn't even necessary, because nearly all audible influences are cited in the band's mission statement: from Lightning Bolt and Karp to Black Sabbath and High on Fire.
The cover couldn't say any more than it already does, because Speak Loud Say Nothing is a sensory bombardment of overheating amps and throbbing rhythms. It's no surprise as to why Wizard Rifle has debuted on Seventh Rule, a subsidiary of Metal Blade, for their sound could appeal to metal fans almost as well as it could to fans of noise rock. Almost, because the band lacks the stark disposition often derived from the genre, and while their riffs are at times inspired by the stoner set, the album is too sobering to fall into that category.
A triumphant set of mutated chords opens "Tears Won't Soften Steel", abruptly interrupted by agitated drums and chants of "If we want more, we'll take it / We always want more, so we take it / If we can't have it, we'll break it." As cornily menacing as the mantra is, it does give way to how readily Wizard Rifle partakes in their indulgences. If it isn't branded to your ear canal on first listen, the chorus proves just how infectious one note can become when filtered through a whammy pedal. At 5 minutes, "Frazetta" is the closest Speak Loud Say Nothing comes to delivering something relatively accessible, frenetically leaping from alien noodling a la Brian Gibson to crushing, doom-informed chugs.
In 36 minutes Wizard Rifle rip through noise rock and its metallic counterparts at an impressionable rate. The five tracks comprising Speak Loud Say Nothing share progressive structures, rarely repeating motifs and honing their versatility. The album's sludgiest moments could be attributed to "Megatherium", but its introduction is an anomaly due to its pensive, distortion-free refrain. As is the case with many works of this ilk, the closing "Leathery Gentlemen" is devoid of inhibitions and showcases the band at their most multifarious, unleashing too many peaks and falls to count. Wizard Rifle's debut is exuberant, colorful, and brimming with personality-- traits often exchanged for animosity in music this instrumentally relentless.
[Wizard Rifle Bandcamp]
[Buy Speak Loud Say Nothing from Seventh Rule]