When hearing a band being labelled as Folk Metal, many people already start to get a rash, expecting some jaunty rhythms with violin and flute, often at higher speeds and with lyrics about the countryside, merry ale-drinking and the likes. Well, Bostonian WILDERUN technically also are being lumped into this genre, but before you leave this review, let me assure you that while they have Folk Metal elements in their sound, this is a completely different kind of beast we are facing and one that I will jump in front of willingly many a time over.
What makes WILDERUN’s debut “Olden Tales & Deathly Trails” so special is that they infuse their Folk Metal with generous helpings of Progressive Rock and Metal. The brainchild of vocalist and guitarist Evan Anderson, this quartet puts an at times progressive spin on the merry fair that will pull you deeper and deeper until you are fully immersed in the demanding yet so accessible compositions they craft.
Opening instrumental “The Cracking Glow” sets out with a light Folk list, but then turns into an epic Prog Rock/Metal instrumental that did take me by surprise, but that is only the beginning. It continues down that lane with “Suncatcher”, which spans Folk Metal, epic Symphonic Metal, Prog and Pagan Metal with dual vocals, a defiant feeling in the heavier section, great atmosphere that sometimes reminds me of the first MAGELLAN album and even a bit of KERRS PINK here and there. While being very different from passage to passage, they make it work and with the very nice choir and beautiful sweeping instrumental passages, they maintain this wonderful flow throughout the song, love it!
“Storm Along” shows a stronger Folk influence with a beautiful acoustic guitar, flute and folky vocals going hand in hand with the distortion and gruff vocals before wonderfully transitioning back to the playful Folk melody, everything has character and is very varied, but without ever sounding disjointed. After the energetic “Vaunting Veins” (without a doubt the heaviest track on offer) and slightly piraty “The Coasts Of High Barbaree” WILDERUN have one last ace up their sleeve: the somewhat oddly titled “The Dying Californian”, a 13-minute epic, which mostly remains in the slow-paced tempos with melancholic atmosphere and occasional speedier outburst with growls and some acoustic guitar driven calmer Folk, while maintaining the same spirit.
The production also is clear and strong, giving the different elements room to breathe and develop, which is more than worthy of a big name sound, further underlining the ambition of this troupe, leaving me parched for more of their sweet musical nectar.
“Olden Tales & Deathly Trails” is a beautiful debut album that shows maturity, variety and freshness as well as the masterful combination of different style into a cohesive whole on such a high level that many of the established acts should keep looking over their shoulder, because this could be the next big thing happening and rightfully so!
(Online December 25, 2012)