Wild Hunt – Before the Plane of Angles (Kemado Records)

Monday, 25th March 2013
Rating: 7.5/10

Nothing screams artsy American black metal more than a band called “Wild Hunt,” you know? At least this isn’t Cascadian black metal…that would cause Blistering to run for the (redwood-covered) hills. Thus, California’s Wild Hunt are not terribly dissimilar to fellow statesmen Ludicra in the sense they have a BM foundation, but enjoy shuffling in some ambience and sludge-filled moments to spice up the mix. On their Before the Plane of Angles debut, Wild Hunt proves to be adept at not falling into one general trap, while taking several calculated risks in the process and coming out smelling like a rose.

Opener “Eidetic Parallax” is a 16-minute opus that like we stated above, is a risky move, but becomes the album’s anchor. With little in terms of vocals, the song’s instrumental base chugs and plugs along with atmospheric spaciousness and sludge ugliness before jostling into a savory melodic crescendo. The band tries to replicate this with album closer “Plane of Angels” (which is also 16 minutes long), but it doesn’t quite match the sonic whirlwind of its predecessor.

Only five songs here, so Wild Hunt can’t really afford to fool around too much, although the noise-filled “Under the Veil of Separation, Bask in the Serenity of Discord” is easily a throwaway. However, “Window to the Nether” supplies a healthy dosage of Nordic-styled riff action, while “Panorama” bobs and weaves between grainy sludge and neo-progressive BM ala modern day Enslaved, just without the Norwegian’s penchant for high-brow psychedelia.

American bands that even tinker with black metal are rapidly becoming the polar opposite of their Scandinavian predecessors, which opens the door for vapid experimentation, as heard on Before the Plane of Angles. If anything, it’s a another spike in the gauntlet for the ever-expanding American black metal scene, whatever the heck that is nowadays…

 www.facebook.com/wildhuntband

(This content originally appeared on Blistering.com)