PICK OF THE WEEK: Wayfarer’s spacious black metal infuses creativity, fury into ‘Old Souls’

Photo by Alvino Salcedo

Photo by Alvino Salcedo

I have some traveling in my future, which I’m both looking forward to and kind of having some anxiety about. The latter is just par for the course. Anyhow, usually during those stretches where there are boring, unexciting scenes, I like to flood my head with stimulating music so that I can stay alert and so that I can have something to lift my spirits.

During these upcoming travels, I’m certain I’ll be spending a lot of time with “Old Souls,” the new record from atmospheric black metal band Wayfarer, a stunning, moving adventure that’s been bombarding me for the past few months. See, I do work for a magazine as well, and with long lead times, we often get music even earlier than I do for what I cover at this site. Since I was assigned Wayfarer, I’ve had the music for quite some time now, and it’s been an album that’s constantly been in my rotation. I know we’re inundated with this style of black metal now, as there certainly is a lot of that out there, but these guys infuse passion and power into their work and keep you dreaming along with them. Hence why they’re going to make essential music for those long hours in the car.

Wayfarer coverWayfarer, who hail from Denver, have been together for half a decade now and already are two full-lengths into their run. The band independently released their 2014 opus “Children of the Iron Age” (another record you should seek out if you haven’t yet), and that caught the attention of Prosthetic Records, who have been building a pretty interesting roster as of late. That’s a plus for both parties as the label gets another great band, and Wayfarer should be exposed to far more sets of eardrums. As for the band, they’re made up of members who have played in bands as varied as Blood Incantation, Abysmal Dimensions, Suns of Sorath, and Kitezh, and they include guitarists/vocalists Tanner Rezabek and Shane McCarthy, bassist Jamie Hansen, and drummer Isaac Faulk, and they’ve really come together as a promising leader in this sect of the sub-genre.

Wayfarer refer to their style as “music for mountains,” and that starts in earnest with “Ever Climbing,” a track that takes its time stretching its legs before unfurling fully. Once the seal is broken, heavy leads push through, howled growls pierce, and a tempered pace pushes on, not too worried about reaching its end point until the full story is told. The song chugs and tears even further apart, spilling into spacious terrain, feedback ringing out, and then another big charge. Melody bursts one more time before the track comes to its resting place. “Frontiers” is a brief interlude, built with drums, an acoustic/electric mix, and rustic sensibilities before heading into the 11:41 “Old Souls’ New Dawn.” Acoustics lead off and into the explosion, with creaky growls smearing as the tempo chugs along. The pace feels like a rolling storm, hanging overhead and soaking the ground, mixing into serenity and quiet guitars, then later erupting anew and unleashing thunder. The growls are deeper and nastier, with an emotional swelling crushing the gates, guitars lathering up, and the song winding down with explosiveness. “Catcher” punches open, making a case for urgency. There is a proggy feel to the riffs, making for one of the catchiest parts of the record, and acoustics settle in and set a bridge to deluge, with the track exuding melody and spilling right up to its blunt end.

“Deathless Tundra” charges open before the tempo starts pushing and pulling. The bulk of this is punchy and rainy, with forceful growls agitating and a fluid pace that makes this feel like a flowing stream. A folkish section arrives before the storm clouds return and deliver fury and blistering growls that trade off with eerie whispers. The final minutes pulverize the senses before the sounds bristle away. “The Dust Lakes” is a quick instrumental, with guitars slowly setting up shop before bleeding and bending through the bulk of this. The track stays mid-tempo and emotional, and it sets the stage for pulverizing, 9:50 closer “All Lost in Aimless Chaos.” The track spits open and spreads sparks, with riveting riffs, and very creative pace, before serenity sets in a lets you room to breathe. That doesn’t last long, however, as the track rages with life again and changes colors constantly, going from fire to ice. Later, the guitars mount a stabbing surge, with vicious growls causing deep bruising, making a final stand before the song takes on a slithering tempo before it fades off into a warped bed of sound.

I can appreciate any band that can grab my attention and hold it for an extended period of time, and Wayfarer definitely have that grasp. “Old Souls” is a big step ahead for them both musically and from an attention standpoint, and hopefully they make the most of that opportunity. This band has a chance to spread atmospheric black metal and its many wonder to more people, and this album is one that deserves your undivided attention.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/wayfarercolorado/

To buy the album, go here: http://prostheticrecords.limitedrun.com/

For more on the label, go here: http://prostheticrecords.com/