Portland, Oregon’s Wizard Rifle have been around since 2009, and in that time produced a steady output of work which owes a debt to the likes of Black Sabbath, Melvins and High on Fire. The term art-fuck scrap metal seems like an apt one. Their eponymous album, their third, defines strict categorisation by bounding across and between genre boundaries to good effect, all within the heavier end of the musical spectrum. Elements of sludge, psychedelia, punk and noise are all present and correct and they combine to produce an album which is not weighed down by the band’s influences. Wizard Rifle may be musical magpies in their tendency to take the best parts of others, but they do so with such genuine energy and flair that it is easy to forgive them any accusations of simulation.

Big Business and Melvins are ghostly presences on album opener ‘Rocket to Hell’, which is a sludge metal anthem for the ages. The vocal harmonies used by Wizard Rifle add a sense of cohesion to the track which the drums and guitars counteract as they seem in a constant twisting battle for supremacy as the song takes hold. It’s a heady rush of energetic tub thumping and heavily distorted guitars that drops into a psych-loaded respite of swirls and higher-pitched riffs, before crashing back in to the maelstrom of the main drive of the song. The ability to do little but layer riff upon powerful riff before hurtling into an altogether cathartic direction is also evident on ‘Caveman Waltz’, which hurtles by at breakneck speed, almost nudging into thrash territory (almost, but not quite). Wizard Rifle songs are unrelenting in their sonic attack, and just as repetition is crucial to the core of the band’s song writing, so change and alteration elevate and produce an unsettling effect. Halfway through ‘Caveman Waltz’ the tempo changes and the urgency of the guitar playing increases as the instruments occupy themselves with a duel that punches you in the gut whilst smiling manically at you. It’s ace.

The five songs that make up Wizard Rifle extend the template that the band set out on their first two albums – there is nothing here to make you feel that the band are taking wildly divergent creative tangents, and although they skip from one subgenre to the next there is nothing overly ambitious here to really surprise the listener. ‘Beneath the Spider’ has an extended stoner rock slow burning opening before dropping a level to a zen-like transcendental passage of relative calm – like Pilgrimage-era Om – which is over all too quickly, before cranking though the gears again to take it up a few levels. The jittery nature of the tracks, seemingly pulled in one direction and then another, suggests almost too many ideas going on, but where some bands in this area tend to settle into a cycle of overly repetitive riffs which can leave you feeling disconnected from them, here Wizard Rifle highlight their ability to throw in ideas at an alarming and effective rate in order to create songs that weave themselves inside and out rather than offering a singular listening experience.

‘Funeral of the Sun’ and ‘V’ are both full-throttle riff monsters, turbo charged chaotic slabs of wonderful noise. Wizard Rifle is one of those rare records where every song is better than the last. So rare, in fact, that I can’t think of another album that does it. Maybe Prince’s Parade? Probably not, actually. There are, of course, only five tracks here which makes sequencing the tracks easier, but this is still an impressive (and brave) feat for a band to achieve.

There is a pessimistic tone to the album’s lyrics, from “Gotta feeling nobody is saving us” on ‘Rocket to Hell’ to “The modern world is a trap” on ‘Caveman Waltz’, and such sentiments permeate the album as a whole as Wizard Rifle show themselves to be political in this most achingly political of times.

This album is a career highlight for a band who are not ashamed to let the world inspect their record collection through the noises that they themselves create. There is a dynamic at the centre of the album which pushes and pulls the musical trajectory and creates something fresh from the sum of its parts.