Wilderun – Sleep at the Edge of the Earth (Self Released)Thursday, 26th March 2015
Ever have that moment where you need to scream at the travesty of the music industry? Where derivative or inept bands somehow land major deals and incredible bands scramble to find the funds to release an album? If you somehow haven’t, chances are that same feeling will be elicited when you finish your first listen of Wilderun’s sophomore effort, Sleep at the Edge of the Earth. In this scenario, said album would not have seen the light of the day if the band hadn’t successfully crowdfunded for the ability to finish/release their product.
Whereas their first album, Olden Tales & Deathly Trails, was pretty classifiable as a folk/death metal release that happily stayed true to its American roots, Sleep at the Edge of the Earth sees the band growing by leaps and bounds. The easy way out is to make mention of the addition of early Opeth-ian landscapes to their epic, Bal-Sagoth-like arrangements and Turisas’ approach to folk. But that would diminish the picture of what the band has accomplished here, as it truly runs the gamut of what extreme (and not-so-extreme) metal has to offer. From the lush, introspective acoustic moments of “Dust and Crooked Thoughts” that begin the journey, you’ll encounter plenty of traditional folk instrumentation, bombastic arrangements, thrashing and downright heavy riffs, raise-your-fist and sing-a-long choruses, and consistently stunning melodies.
It’s hard to pick favorites as the songs flow from one to another and the concept blends the songs together into movements. This isn’t a sit down and listen to one song affair, but you’ll be drawn to just keep hitting repeat as the near-hour long album finishes. The released single “The Garden of Fire” shows how the band has upped the ante on heaviness (in both the riffing and vocals) with some neckbreaking moments, yet the back-half of the song eases back with plenty of folky melodies and Wilderun’s knack for emotive and infectious clean vocals. “Bite the Wound” also sees the band thrusting forward with bombastic yet thrashy melodies that slowly meld into grin-inducing guitarwork. At the other end, we have “Hope and Shadow,” displaying some somber acoustic melodies and gorgeous atmosphere. The album ends perfectly with some gentle piano bringing the disc to a cyclic close, with a moving nod back to the opening acoustic riff of “Dust and Crooked Thoughts.”
While initially impressive, with repeated listens you can get a real idea of the care that has been taken to the arrangement of this album. With the shifts moving from heavy to mellow and from somber to uplifting, everything seems to have its purpose and function. With two albums under their belt, Wilderun is a band that should be going places if they could get the exposure. Sleep at the Edge of the Earth is nothing short of breathtaking, and should be required listening for any and all fans of extreme metal. Don’t let this one slip below your radar.