Portland-to-Los Angeles three-piece Wizard Rifle released their second disc, Here in the Deadlights, in October (Seventh Rule Recordings) and this new five song disc combines sludgy stoner rock with muscular garage punk along with some elements of free-form jazz. In terms of comparisons, the sludge of Melvins, the bluesy stoner-rock of Mudhoney and the destructive garage punk sounds of any of the early AmRep bands (i.e. Halo of Flies) immediately come to mind but Wizard Rifle’s music is also cross-cut with the free-form unpredictability of no-wave punks like James Chance and the Contortions. All of the songs clock in around the six minute mark and they are highlighted by excellent production, which clearly brings the band’s sonic wall of sound to the forefront. Here in the Deadlights was recorded at guitarist Max Dameron’s Breakfast Studios and mixed by Billy Anderson (Sleep) and Jesse Johnstone.
The disc starts with “Crystal Witch”, which combines the swirling psychedelia of early Pink Floyd with stoner sludge and a big, muscular guitar sound. This is a high-energy number with building guitar riffs and tom rolls over which Dameron and drummer Sam Ford sing in a bluesy, hoarse rasp. This number immediately flows into “Buzzsaw Babes”, which is a garage/blues number that features a twisting guitar line, a big bottom-end bass and pounding drums along with fuzzed out vocals. “Paul The Sky Tyrant” is more of a heavier song with its grinding, groove-based riffs and marching beat. The (mostly clean) vocals on this number are beneath a twisted guitar line and the music is more bluesy than fuzzy. “Psychodynamo” is the longest track on the disc, clocking in at almost nine minutes, and this number starts with minor key, atmospheric, space-rock and spoken word vocals that build and eventually pick up speed , taking the song to an old-school hardcore ending. The disc closes with “Beastwhores”, which starts as a post-punk free-form jazz number that morphs into stoner psychedelic sludge.
What is fitting, given the sound of this band, is that Seventh Rule has pressed a limited edition vinyl version of Here in the Deadlights on “Deep Purple” Color-in-Color Vinyl (ltd to 100 Copies). Buy this through the label’s mail order shop before you have to pay eBay collectors’ prices.
Wizard Rifle has shared the stage with the likes of Yob, Church Of Misery, Black Cobra, Arabrot and Rabbits and the band was recently in town for a show at St. Vitus. In an era where almost every concert is recorded, I couldn't find any live footage from the band's recent fall tour so - here is a video from Wizard Rifle's 2012 show at The Acheron.