Wilderun – Epigone (2022) – Review

Listen on Apple Music
RockmusicRaider - Spotify Logo
Wilderun - Epigone - Album Cover

If there’s one band out there that surprised us every time they issued a record, it’s Wilderun. At first, it is always that slightly nauseating feeling of indifference. Yet another metal record that gets sent way back into the review pipe, to wait for another chance. Only to find that after the fifth listen or so, the record will finally reveal some multi-layered goodness that will prove irresistible. A fil-rouge that’s very apparent in both Sleep1) and Veil2), both of which found highest praise in the end.

Now, Epigone here pushes this concept to the limit. As it seems custom with the Post Metal folks lately, the band almost drove the RMR crew to the brink with some endless noodling of way over 5 minutes or so. There wasn’t even an attempt to capture anyone’s attention.3) Right off the start, the record just floats away on some folksy, neo-classical tune. Yet again, Exhaler is nonetheless a smooth concoction that presents a finely chiseled, softly toned acoustic piece.

It’s thus great to see that by the second minute of Woolgatherer the band finally arrives at some crossroads leading into Wilderun territory. That’s the first time you get a sense of theme, some gently injected oomph into a smooth and finely arranged record.

Now, despite its inherent lengthiness and equally inherent tendency to meander about some soundscape or other, Epigone is a masterclass in production. Also, I am truly blown away by the songwriting skills the Wilderun folks display here. Of course, no level of songwriting will work if the technical aspects don’t work out and the execution ain’t top-notch. And here we detected minute attention to each detail at a level that we’ve seldom seen to date.

In typical Wilderun fashion, Epigone rapidly changes from delicate melodic passages to harsh growls in a manner that sometimes took our breath away. Most of that goodness is just flawless, and I’m not using that term lightly. This results in an endearing flow that other leading Progressive Metal outfits still search for.

Evan Berry indeed improved his skillset over the band’s former concoctions. He now displays a smoothness not seen before and – indeed – a masterly command of any vocal variation used on Epigone. In addition, we relished the subtle orchestration that permeates the record on all levels. Subtle injections of strings, wind instruments, sudden blasts of a choir, it’s all there. But never straight in yer face, as other players like to do it.

Now, why didn’t I mention the guitars yet? It’s not because we found anything amiss. Much to the contrary, the subtle riffing and often stellar solos perfectly accompany the overall theme. It is because the master shredders here kinda work from the background in the second tier. Until they don’t, of course. And this, yet again, showcases a virtuosity that leads to an arrangement and mix that are almost without fault.

Now, which ones of the tracks would we recommend this time? The aforementioned Woolgatherer, of course. This track indeed embodies the essence of Epigone best. Passenger with its perfect airs of prog in its best Ayreon robe is worth a mention, too. But the RMR crew here were truly smitten with the Distraction series. And out of those, Distraction I stands tall with its artsy orchestration. Add to that Distraction Nulla, the final roar of the record, that dazzled us with its excursion in the lands of dissonance and Extreme Metal. Truly, the talent Wilderun brings to our turntable really is astounding.

Ultimately, the record sports a slick and almost cunning progression that leads you from a soft start to an end in dismal chaos. Epigone sounds like that first warm and premature spring breeze, pregnant with promises of new growth and vibrant life. But one that must finally succumb to the inevitable maelstrom of anarchy that we’re all headed towards.

In other words, Wilderun – once again – surpassed themselves with this new record. This is – simply put – a masterpiece. Quote me on that.

Ed’s note: The record made it onto the 2022 Top 10 Records. Congrats!

Record Rating: 9/10 | LabelCentury Media | Web: Official Band Site
Release Date: 7 January 2021


Raid a comment or twenty!