A few months ago I did a quick listen through Wilderun’s newest album, because I kept seeing excellent reviews pop up here and there. I had never heard of them, so I didn’t even know what genre to expect. I thought it sounded like pretty standard folk/symphonic/power metal, so I stopped listening to it and never reviewed it.
Last week I was struggling for what to review this week, so I decided to give this another shot. I’m glad I did. This is one of those meticulously constructed albums where every song has its place and is necessary to the whole. I thought the first track was a nice gentle introduction, but on subsequent listens I realized the acoustic and doubling of instruments on the melody not only set up the mood for the rest of the album, but it also served to emphasize a recurring theme.
The following four tracks are labelled “Ash Memory” Parts I, II, III, and IV. As someone that just proclaimed loving cohesion, these tracks should be the highlight. The names aren’t merely for show. These clearly make a single cohesive unit: epic start, slow movement, a sort of scherzo, finale (with recapitulations of earlier parts). It roughly follows the form of a symphony.
Content-wise, it is fine. The grouping is not my favorite on the album. They know how to push the epic buttons with long sweeping melodies over fast repetitive patterns and driving bass line. The melody itself is catchy, but I start to feel the repetitiveness of it by the end now that I’ve listened to the album many times. My favorite iteration is Part II where they show what it sounds like in a true folk setting with layered vocals, many acoustic instruments, and traditional drums.
“The Garden of Fire” gets heavier with some more technical metal. This is probably their weakest song. They do some interesting things incorporating in mandolin and symphonic elements, but melodically and technically nothing stands out. The earlier melody comes back, too.
The rest of the album finishes off with more of the types of things we’ve heard already. Their real strength comes at parts where they can focus on the melodies and harmonies with clean singing and acoustics. This sometimes translates well into the metal parts, but sometimes it gets repetitive.
Overall, I’ve enjoyed listening to this one quite a bit. It isn’t album of the year, but I’ll check out their next effort for sure. They do a lot of stuff well. Overall, I give it an 8/10. Here’s a sample: