Wanderer - Way of the Blade - (7.5/10)
Published on June 4, 2017
Hailing from Portugal and apparently around for several years already, Wanderer have finally managed to put out their first official release. The EP looks like a cross between an old Trouble album (The Skull comes to mind for this reviewer) and an Asian martial arts film and fits both stereotypes as it rumbles into life with a steady, loping groove that promises depths of pain. However, the whole thing comes to life when an energetic riff tumbles in and Wanderer quickly expose themselves as disciples of a different kind of 1980s nostalgia, that of the swift right hand, the clacking bass, and the soaring melody.
The four-piece have certainly nailed the throwback aesthetic, matching the vintage cover art with a robust yet sepia-toned production that allows every instrument to be heard clearly and every riff to take hold without sounding modern or aggressive in the least. The speedy rhythm guitars are reminiscent of Wolf’s earlier output, which is enhanced by a similarity in vocal styles, even to the extent of a few wonky higher notes, while the melodies and relentless feeling of epic journeying reflects Running Wild in their prime. Speed is the order of the day, taking precedence over heaviness, though not at the expense of hooks, which can be best witnessed in the chorus of “Freedom’s Call” and the hummable melodies saturating the bridges of both songs.
Of the two cuts presented, “Way of the Blade” draws nearer to the standard Running Wild template owing to a familiar lick in the verse riff and the same heaving chord change that the Germans trademarked some 30 years ago. “Freedom’s Call”, on the other hand, is slightly harder to pin down and stays engaging for almost eight minutes, evoking the open road or the open sea in its enthusiastic sprawl. Neither piece could be called revolutionary, but Way of the Blade shows that Wanderer understand spirit is more important than originality when it comes to speed metal.