If you grew up in the United States—it matters not what area as the story spread everywhere—then you grew up with the myth of the Old West and the cowboy, something that used to dominate film and television a little more than a half century ago. It’s woven into the fabric of this land’s own folklore (I saw a full fucking magazine about John Wayne at a home improvement store last week), and it’s taken on a life of its own, sometimes to detrimental means.
Denver-based black metal band Wayfarer likely were even more immersed in these tales as they hail from a place that was in a large part of that history’s heart, and they tackle that on their ambitious, spellbinding new record “A Romance With Violence.” This isn’t foreign territory based on the band’s three preceding records, all released within a clean two-year period of each other, but this is where they find their rugged spirit and puts it all together like never before. The band—guitarist/vocalist Shane McCarthy, guitarist Joey Truscelli, bassist/vocalist James Hansen, drummer Isaac Faulk—were joined by guests including Kelly Schilling (Dreadnought), Anthony Limon (Falcon’s Eye), and Colin Marston (Krallice, Gorguts, who also mastered the record) to create this cinematic, destructive document that fills your heart and mind with drama as we watch blood soak the earth, legend peeled to bare bones.
“The Curtain Pulls Back” starts the record, a true scene setter with old timey piano and echoes swirling, and then it’s into “The Crimson Rider (Gallows Frontier, Act I)” that tears open into spacious melodies and growls filling the air. The vocals turn vile and spread as guitars build a wall, as the fury increases, and the drums cave in walls. “As the platform falls from his feet, his last breath proclaims: I am iron, I am death, I am the setting sun, I am the West,” McCarthy wails as a prog feel arrives, and the synth melts minds. The track then charges all over, agitating storms from hell and ravaging until the track trickles out. “The Iron Horse (Gallows Frontier, Act II)” starts with riffs making the room spin before everything is torn apart, and guitars flex their muscles while kicking up dust. “An inferno, fed of enslavement and starvation, there is always more coal for the flames,” McCarthy jabs as fluid soloing lights up the night sky. The pace then gallops as clouds form over the mountains, setting off thunder that makes the ground shake.
“Fire & Gold” has guitars settling in as the band unfurls a midwestern vibe complete with clean singing. Organs swell as the voices continue to rise, and the track feels like it’s off toward the desert as noises warp and open a portal to a dream state. “Masquerade of the Gunslingers” brings guitars jangling and melody flooding as fierce shrieks deliver pain. The leads warm up as an epic assault is mounted, hammering through with reckless abandon. A period of cold soaks the skin, feeling like you’ve been left shivering before things take a turn and heat up the intensity, with McCarthy howling, “You feel it burning within you, you’re paralyzed, please take my hand and step into the night.” The pace continues to add force before the track comes unglued with devastating roars that turn to shrieks, and the band smashes to the very end. “Intermission” has guitars and keys creating a strange haze, hanging overhead and moving into closer “Vaudeville” that starts with stick taps and riffs creating hypnosis. Acoustics and hand claps echo as hearty singing jolts, feeling rustic and steely until the floor ultimately drops. Shrieks shatter as McCarthy calls, “I wait for the show to come back, holding out, to see that magic once again I wait, while the water comes down, will I ever see the end?” Guitars spiral as the drumming caves, with another heavy blast crushing rock, the playing cascading, and the spirit sinking into the night.
Wayfarer’s infatuation with the Old West and the cowboy legend comes into sharp, stunning focus on “A Romance With Violence,” easily the best record of their run so far. The band’s combination of rousing black metal, dusty western music, and explosive atmosphere sounds as channeled and focused as it ever has for this band, and this is a compelling journey from front to back.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/wayfarercolorado/
To buy the album, go here: https://profoundlorerecords.merchtable.com/?
For more on the label, go here: https://www.profoundlorerecords.com/