Even before hearing a single note of “Wardrive” I was already excited about WASTELANDER based solely on Sean “Xaphan” Peters’ involvement with the band. I loved his previous band, SUMMON, and in the wake of their untimely demise I had high hopes that the infernal spirit of said band would somehow live on through WASTELANDER. Fast forward a few listens later and I’m not quite as blown away by these guys as I had hoped...
See, there’s nothing inherently crappy about WASTELANDER’ old-school Crust/Thrash/Black/whatever sound but not a whole lot of these songs really hit home with me. They are not terribly played nor terribly written – they’re simply not very memorable. The band seem really keen to thrash out in that patented 80s vein and although tracks like “Days Of Hell” and “Wastelander” succeed quite well in this task a few others like the title track and “Mindsweeper” just plod along aimlessly, and during a few sections I felt that they had difficulty merging the ‘fun’ factor of old Thrash with the more grim vibe of Black Metal, leaving a rather contrived feeling hanging over a good portion of this album. On two tracks – “Knee Deep In The Dead” and the brilliantly titled “Frost Storm” – they slow things down a tad while throwing in darker riffs as well as sparse backing keyboards and epic lead sections to invoke a more atmospheric vibe that is almost akin to IMMORTAL at times. Unfortunately these are moments of arbitrary brilliance in an otherwise standard album.
“Wardrive” is certainly far from the worst offering of its kind but a few more catchy riffs here and there would’ve aided the overall quality of the album greatly. Despite the rigorously old-school feel of the album the sound is sufficiently clear, and the band does seem to have fun with these songs but save for the few tracks mentioned above this album does have the tendency to come off as dangerously middle-of-the-road at times, as pointed out earlier. Pick this up if you love bands like AURA NOIR, AXEGRINDER and BATHORY (first three albums) but know that this is strictly an OK album, nothing more.
(Online January 25, 2009)