WIZARD RIFLE – Wizard Rifle

Wizard Rifle are a two piece noise rock band from Portland, Oregon. They began thrilling (and terrifying) audiences in 2010. This self titled release from 2019 is their first for Svart Records (home to Witch Mountain, Harvest, Brutus and various bands with Scandinavian sounding names), but despite making the leap from DIY recordings to signing a cult metal oriented label with a keen fan-base, Wizard Rifle haven’t become any more commercial. Their self titled record features just five tracks, but within those lengthy arrangements you’ll find sections of music which seem bolted together and huge slabs of music created from mangled riffs and sludgy sounds. Always with an ear on sculptures more than songs, it’s tiring…but also brilliant. Hearing Wizard Rifle for the first time is like experiencing Buzz Osborne from Melvins jamming with the now defunct That Fucking Tank while disturbed people shout randomly. With every listen after that, something new comes through; new noises, new howls of pain…but you’ll never forget that initial experience. And it is an experience.

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AUTUMNWIND – Endless Fear

Autumnwind isn’t really a band; it’s a huge musical vision where its founder, Abdulrahman Abu Lail writes and plays everything. He uses this one man band as a vehicle for emotional outpouring, in his own words, as a way of “mind-describing” his own feelings through intensive music. This third album makes that theory even clearer by giving its five pieces of music titles which reflect emotive states. The results, as expected, are very heavy, though never so confrontational you’d struggle to listen or, indeed, want to shut off the feelings that Abdulrahman is keen to share.

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MORAG TONG – Last Knell Of Om

At the beginning of 2016, London based doom/sludge quartet Morag Tong released their debut EP ‘Through Clouded Time’. It received some very enthusiastic responses online and in it’s wake, the band were able to increase their profile through extensive live work. A follow up wasn’t especially quick in coming, but just one listen to 2018’s ‘Last Knell of Om’ reveals why. The band seemingly weren’t intent on just hacking out more of the same when it came to making a full length release. The album really delivers on previous musical ideas, but also takes the longer playing time to experiment with a few more progressive and space rock tendencies than before.

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INTO THE STORM / SMOOTH SAILING – Split EP

Metal oriented split releases are great, especially when they feature a couple of cult bands that share a similar musical root. The 2015 split between Cult of Luna and the lesser known Old Wind was interesting, and especially so considering Old Wind absolutely trounced the band most people would have bought the release to hear. Better yet, the 2018 split between Slomatics and Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard achieved the same fate: after years of championing sludge and doom riffs, Ireland’s finest were outshone at almost every turn by the amusingly named Welsh upstarts. It was a release that no doom lovers should be without and one that proved that Mammoth Weed’s moment of glory had truly come.

A split between Into The Storm and Smooth Sailing is a natural phenomenon. Both bands have a similar approach to heaviness yet have their own style, so it’s easy to favour one over the other. Also – and perhaps this is the deal clincher here – Like Melvins and Fantomas, there’s some crossover with regard to band members. This EP is also a good way to get some previously unheard material out to both long standing fans and new listeners alike.

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