Not every band is a family. It’s funny sometimes to hear about groups that can’t even be in the same room together without coming to blows. Classic bands such as Van Halen and Dokken amassed tons of fans over the years despite their complete lack of personal functionality. So, when a band that does operate like a group of people who genuinely like each, it makes it that much harder when a member is lost.
We haven’t heard from wondrous metallic weirdos Wild Hunt in six years, and there are good reasons for that. Not only must it take some time to create their incredibly expansive creations, they also had to do so without guitarist Drew Cook, who passed away in 2015. That loss had a profound effect on the band, and that darkness spills into their mind-warping second album “Afterdream of the Reveller.” The band insists the album is not conceptual, but the effects of Cook’s passing, as well as depression and personal darkness, descent into madness, and the effect of personal loss are heavy themes on these thunderous eight songs. The creativity and manic aggression the band put into these songs is thick and ever-present, and as you travel though these adventures, you experience a taste of the madness that has warped the group the past few years. The music mostly was constructed by drummer/lead vocalist Harland Burkhardt and guitarist Greg Brace, though Cook contributed writing and some of his work is on four songs, so he’s even more woven into the record. Rounding out the lineup are guitarist/vocalist Jameson Kester (also of Void Omnia) and bassist Avinash Mittur, making for a whole new Wild Hunt that is here to rewrite their future.
“At Once the Vision and the Seer” opens the record with keys dripping, weirdness arriving, and dialog warbling before the thing opens in a death assault. The track is tricky and crushing, with prog fury sprinkled liberally, and shredding guitars tearing apart muscles. The back end is batshit crazy before it ends in as beastly a manner possible. “Odious Gamble” is up next and contains one of Cook’s final riffs. Guitars light up, as cool guitars emerge, and strangulated vocals make the track feel that much rougher. The track gets strange, as the playing reminds of early Mastodon, but then monstrous growling, smearing playing, a goddamn doom bell, and noise cloud end the display. “The Last Saeculum” has an acoustic start, adding calm, before the song gets a spacious push, and mysterious vocals punch you. The cosmic mysteriousness becomes overwhelming, as black chaos swarms, wild cries lead to a warped stretch, and a blinding solo works into the acoustic outro. “Choir of a Greater Sea” is my favorite song here, and it has a swelling, fast start, with a chorus rushing, the lead guitars jarring, and a black metal feel to the vocals. The growls get maniacal, while the pace dizzies, and then prog fires are agitated again. A weird ambiance envelopes all, while the sounds mystify, and it’s all washed away.
“Desiderium” is a quick, eerie interlude with creaky speaking and warbled singing, and it makes its way toward the title track that has a delirious, melodic burst out of the gates. Gurgly growls and rough-edged singing unite, as the base of the song is a heavy, emotional storm. The track blasts and lands punches, keeping your insides washing back and forth until a strikingly atmospheric end. “Nest of Flames” has noise rustling and spacey synth spreading, as creaky growls pelt the flesh, and a robotic-style transmission keeps your imagination working in overdrive. The guitars amp up the intensity about halfway through the track, sending the songs into air pockets, thick clouds, and a dreamy haze that pulls the song to its end. Closer “Palingenesia” is an immediate explosion, as savage energy and bludgeoning playing crumble your bones. The band heads into a heady, proggy section that becomes a strange, humid trip that eventually tears everything to shreds. The guitars explore, all kinds of colors splash into the mix, and the final dose of madness mixes into cosmic noise, with everything fading among the stars.
Wild Hunt’s incredible work continues with “Afterdream of the Reveller,” a record that unfortunately took a huge amount of personal pain in order to complete. It’s a great tribute to Cook and what he meant to his friends, and it’s an astonishing piece of work that sounds like nothing else out there. Take time, listen without distraction, and let this record lay waste to your mind.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/WILDHUNTBAND/
To buy the album, go here: https://vendetta-records.bandcamp.com/album/afterdream-of-the-reveller
For more on the label, go here: https://vendetta-records.bandcamp.com/