Sleep at the Edge of the World of the Progressive Folk Metal band Wilderun is another one of these gems that – I am unhappy to say – somehow did not get on the RockmusicRaider review list in 2015.
And it is a disturbing piece of work.
You start listening and you cannot stop. This particular stretch of tune must be bewitched. Not that it is overly melodious. Well, no, it actually is. But then it isn’t – disturbingly isn’t.
Have I confused you yet?
Wilderun‘s devilishly complex and self-released sophomore album Sleep at the Edge of the World will do that to you. It kind of feels like Steven Wilson’s Hand. Cannot. Erase. taken to the next fucking level. Just check out Hope and Shadow (Ash Memory Part II). Progressive Folk Metal moving up to meet Death Metal. With some fragrant blackish intonations thrown in for sport. Then they mix well and spit out again. To still kick it up a notch, they swirl some symphonic elements into this whole composition and skillfully done too. Do I see Eluveitie dancing up and down at the edges of my vision?
The record moves seamlessly and effortlessly from airy-fairy to a Moonspell-ish growled attack in a heartbeat. At times it feels like some sort of Myrkur without the Enya-esque chanting. Then the tune morphs into a special brand of thrashy Progressive Melodic Folk Death Metal, which in this form has seldom been heard. In Bite the Wound (Ash Memory Part III) you will find a lot of that, a most astonishing track.
Then they up the ante and suddenly take a Thrash Metal turn on ye in The Garden of Fire. The very same track turning merlinesque and dream-like, talking about drinking from the goblet of time a bit later. Okay, some purists will probably bleat about too much cheese and what have you.
However, some fantasy should be allowed in this foggy landscape of theirs. If you really want cheese, check out the last 2015 assault from Gloryhammer. There you can positively lather yer mighty selves in fondue. Garden of Fire is just stellar, no need to say more!
It is this state of constant flux present throughout that renders this album hellishly difficult to review. But also equally difficult to just listen to. On the other hand, this kicks up the interest levels too. So there are indeed two sides to this decidedly tasty medal. And this speaks towards the quality of this record in general, but more to that later.
One would think that Wilderun – the band – somehow dwells somewhere in the cold tundras of the North of the old continent. But know, oh metallic readers, they join us from Boston, MA. Land of Lovecraft-esque schemes and the cult of Cthulhu.
This is a tad surprising: A lot of Folk Metal originates from Europe. So, ye Folk metallers from the windy fjords and yonder rocky hills, hear me, there: You got some mighty competition from across the pond. You need to turn and stand to meet this mighty 40-gun frigate boring down on you from the American coast.
Wilder came into existence in 2008 by Evan Berry (guitars and vocals), but only really got off the ground in 2012. Meantime, other band members were added: Wayne Ingram (guitars), Dan Müller (bass), and Jon Teachey on drums. The band enjoyed considerable acclaim at the Paganfest III in Worcester, MA in 2012 and then went on to record their first album shortly thereafter. Now followed by this here concoction, released in 2015.
This gets me to the quality of the songwriting on Sleep at the Edge of the World: The only word that comes to mind is outstanding. It is amazing how they use dynamics, layering different styles, instruments, and symphonics skillfully onto each other to get to the final product. None of those elements overwhelm, though. All is applied with due constraint and aligned to the overall theme.
This said the mastering favors the string instruments and spoken words a trifle too much, at the detriment of the drums. But this is really nothing compared to the overall performance. The lyrics are fully ingrained into the tune and it is startling how they change their tune in line with the words. Again in tandem with the lyrics, the vocals move from soft to threatening. All of a sudden growling at you again as the story meanders through this wild badland.
Now, the way the different tracks are connected to and flow into each other is another mastery that I have seldom seen done better. For example, the switch over from Bite the Wound (Ash Memory Part III) to The Faintest Echo (Ash Memory Part IV) is extremely well done. Again, another mastery in a series of masteries in one single friggin’ record. This whole album is indeed a step up from their 2012 debut Olden Tales & Deathly Trails.
The power and energy do not let up until the bitter end. After a somewhat mediocre Linger, Sleep at the Edge of the World then goes epic and highly complex with an 11-minute monster called The Means to Preserve. A worthy conclusion, throwing pretty much all the elements into the fray that the album was able to provide so far.
And what about other possible competitors like Moonsorrow, Ensiferum, and to some extent Turisas? Well, those folks are sadly bobbing in the wake of this mighty frigate called Wilderun with sails all ahoo.
In conclusion, Sleep at the Edge of the World is a delight to listen to. The way Wilderun connect different metal styles with Folk and symphonic elements is just amazing. And they do that smoothly. Without weighing the listener with too much bombast and over-compressed content, as other bands like to do.
Their tune conveys a whole landscape of sound to you. It definitely feels like a voyage through some fairy, foggy lands, with deep, foreboding abysses here and there, monsters, and dark, cold plains with deep forests.
Adepts of the easy tune should thus abstain, ’tis complex and difficult stuff. And you need to give it your time of day, only one listen will not get you there – at all. Go to the beach, somewhere outside – and switch off your phone. You will need your undivided attention for this.
Let her rip and enjoy!
Record Rating: 9/10 | Label: Self-Released | Web: Official Site
Release date: 7 April 2015