Glitter Wizard, boldly clad in Rennaisance garb (at least in their most recent promotional photo shoot), have journeyed for over a decade to forge the theatrical, swirling Opera Villains (Heavy Psyche Sounds Records).
Their songs have found an equal home at the X Games and in low-budget pornography, a sign of heavy rock’s irreverent roots. Opera Villains, true to form, is an ornate thing of sheer decadence.
At the album’s gate, the raw drive of “A Spell So Evil” travels from the fantastical, parallel universe of 70s heavy metal. Mid-heavy bass guides claw-baring riffs into battle through psychedelic synth bends. The song pummels its way to your brain and then finds a steady gallop, setting the stage for the hairy, sweaty joviality of the rest of Opera Villians.
“Toxic Lady” slows the pace with catchy, sing-song choruses and sludgy verses. Two-thirds of the way through the song, the bass finds itself at the center of the show with every instrument slowly returning for a final hurrah before “Here in the Dark.”
The finger-plucked ballad inspires visions of flames licking the cold stone of a keep. It’s almost operatic vocals resonate through empty, chasmic corridors. This soft, brooding melody breaks relentlessly into the frantic sprint of “Ten Foot Man.”
The instrumental “ March of the Red Cloaks” serves as an excellent album interlude but also as a manifesto for the instrumentation of Opera Villains. Rich with bravado, the song showcases every instrument without sacrificing the song.
Not a band to merely meet a crass, one-ballad-per-album quota, Glitter Wizard offer “Rats,” a gentle piano melody with a seemingly drunken guitar solo swaggering atop the somber tune. This, followed by the aggression of “Dead Man’s Wax,” continues the album’s trend of fun, engaging pacing.
The most raucous, anthemic songs of Opera Villians are also the longest: “Hall of the Oyster King” and “Warm Blood.” These songs, clocking in at over six minutes each and only briefly separated by the Tudor-esque “Prelude to a Duel,” check all of Opera Villains’ boxes. The riffs are powerful. The synth is surreal. The drums and bass are driving. Every element collides to form heavy metal outside of space and time.
Glitter Wizard are raw and raucous yet resplendent. Their latest album serves as a testament to the enduring nature of heavy rock. If Opera Villains did not at all excite the same animal brain that once rested under hair that windmilled to Dio’s Holy Diver, that brain may no longer be alive.