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Wilderun - Veil of Imagination (Reissue) Award winner

Veil of Imagination (Reissue)
by Justin "Witty City" Wittenmeier at 11 July 2020, 10:24 AM

WILDERUN is a progressive death metal band that also uses folk elements into their well compiled strong structures.  “Veil Of Imagination,” is their third full length album. “Veil Of Imagination,” was originally released last year and to great acclaim.  As a reviewer, I obviously receive a lot of promos but I also try to discover new bands on my own.  But that isn’t always the case and sometimes bands and albums go under my radar.  WILDERUN and this incredible album were one such case.   Thankfully, it is being reissued on CD and giving the vinyl treatment this year from Century Media Records, now that the band has officially signed with them.

So how is the this much lauded album?  Did I find it worth all the hype I read over it last year?  A huge resounding yes.  The most marvelous thing about the album is how well the band blends so many different styles—their sound is rooted in progressive elements but they are a true melting pot of different perspectives, sounds, and paths that walk off the beaten trail. I will go a step further and also give praise to how masterful and effortlessly they switch from one musical scene to the next.  To listen to their music, to absorb the magic that is “Veil of Imagination,” is to be treated to a musical picture that rivals even the most majestic landscapes from any other medium, such as film or books.  Before I dive in, I do want to mention what few complaints I do have.  As with so many bands who play prog of any type, sometimes they has a hard time getting out of their own way.  Specifically, I think they might spend too much time on some of the lighter elements of their sound—there definitely is room to add more extreme measures.  Of course, this is just personal tastes, as any review is, so others might not be as picky about this.

The album just brims with confidence.  Take the first track, for example, the first track “ The Unimaginable Zero Summer.”  This is is a nearly fifteen minute long song that was chosen as the opener—very brazen, very much a sign in the confidence of the band.  When it comes to longer structured songs, it tends to be a love or hate feeling towards them.  However,  WILDERUN’s command of the minutes contained within the song will win anyone over, even if they don’t normally listen to such lengthy musical adventures. “Unimaginable Zero Summer,” starts life as a very quiet, ambient type of song complete with spoken word vocals.  The beginning passages are so lithe, so gentle that the music whispers against the ears like a light summer breeze. The song builds up as the minutes pass, adding new layers as the clean guitar gets louder and more intricate.  Folk runs strong in the song as this point as do more symphonic elements.  Around 3:18, the light summer breeze turns into straight line winds.  Forceful drumming and a fast tempo bring in some black metal to the bands repertoire.

As the song moves ever forward, progressive death metal, complete with growls, becomes  the song’s new identity.  Fans of OPETH and early GORJIA will appreciate the band’s ability to create thinking man’s music while laying down a firm, brutal heavy foundation.  EVAN’s vocal abilities are at the top of the prog game as he can do anything from growls to the softest style. “O Resolution!” keeps the momentum going with its complex layered symphonic opening.  The choir and clean vocals generate an operatic feel that keeps the listener guess as to what is going to come next.  The last half the song is the death growls leading the way, complimented by melodic bass.  These two elements lead the song into an ending that has the entire band just throwing out the prog like there isn’t a tomorrow.

Keyboards glisten like moonlight through clouds in the opening moments of “Sleeping Ambassadors of the Sun.”  This song begins lighter as well but the sweeping orchestration gives it a foreboding tension that hints at a storm to come.  And that storm does come, in the form of thick, galloping riffs and gripping death growls that switch between perfectly pitched cleans and a choir of madness.  The guitar solo that follows soon after is exciting yet emotional, I haven’t heard solos this majestic outside of John Petrucci.  The song’s ending has the clean vocals going along with several different guitar parts, keys, solid bass and drums for a truly epic and cascading experience.

Now here is where the album gets even more interesting.  After “Sleeping…” fades out, the quiet yet gripping “Scentless Core (Budding),” gives the album a slight breather with an instrumental that is half hazy keyboard and a brief yet wild second half.  As this song ends, it flows perfectly into “Far From Where Dreams Unfurl,” where a flash of bombastic energy announces the song’s arrival with a very immediate yet smooth flowing sound.  The vocals appear at the song’s beginning and ends, both times with are very catchy.  The middle portion of the song is all instrumental prowess, the band going on to become this monstrous metal jam band where they just let it all hang out on stage.

As the song too fades out, “Scentless Core (Fading)” continues where the first part went off but also bridges the gap to the next track, “The Tyranny of Imagination.”  This kind of album pacing and song placement is nothing short of astonishing.  The “Scentless Core,” songs tied together this entire five song run but are actually a journey unto themselves because the two parts work extremely well together on their own.  I am truly blown away, almost speechless, by how clever all this was.  Even if I didn’t like this band or album, I would still walk away impressed at this point.  Wow, just wow.

Speaking of “The Tyranny..” I have to say it is one of my favorite songs from the album.  It expertly combines melody and progressive elements while still retaining hard hitting death metal elements.  Check out those riffs, the rumbling of the double bass, the death growls and tell me this band couldn’t hang with the heaviest of the extreme if so they chose. I loved the intimidating keyboards and the crisp yet tumultuous drums adding in a whole new dimension to the song.  The last four minutes of the song are truly special, with the growls going for broke and the sweeping keys mixing with the bass and drums to back it all up in a very forceful display of melodic aggression.

The final track, “When The Fire And The Rose Were One,” caps the album off with another lengthy audio adventure.  This song is easily the most progressive song on the album and really took me back to the time when I first discovered prog metal thru DREAM THEATER….this song just has that same timeless feel to it.  Light and dark elements, methodical parts, more direct sections..this song really full encompasses just how powerful progressive metal can be.  The genre is so often thought of as pretentious, stuffy, and convoluted but this song, and WILDERUN themselves, prove that you can include everything and the kitchen sink yet still come off as energetic, interesting, and just plain fun.

This album is quite the expansive and sweeping experience and is definitely one of the better albums available right now in this style.  It is a meaty experience that will be with you long after the last note finishes—and again, when you hit that repeat button.

Songwriting: 9
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 9
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

1. The Unimaginable Zero Summer
2. O Resolution!
3. Sleeping Ambassadors of the Sun
4. Scentless Core (Budding)
5. Far from Where Dreams Unfurl
6. Scentless Core (Fading)
7. The Tyranny of Imagination
8. When the Fire and the Rose Were One
Evan Anderson Berry – Vocals, Rhythm Guitars, Piano
Daniel Muller – Bass, Keyboards, Orchestrations
Jonathan Teachey – Drums
Wayne Ingram – Orchestrations
Joe Gettler – Lead Guitars
Record Label: Century Media Records


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