REVIEW: WILDERUN – “Veil Of Imagination”
There are rare times when something so excellent, so unique and so enchanting comes up that we are immediately drawn to it. Wilderun’s ‘Sleep at the Edge of the Earth’ (2015) was exactly that, quickly gaining notoriety among metal’s underground and charming its way into several end-of-year lists. Rarer than that would be to top it, and ‘Veil of Imagination’ sure as hell did it.
Combining elements of acts like early Opeth, Wintersun, Ne Obliviscaris and much of their fellow countrymen Lör, the Boston natives take things to the next step in terms of epicness and instrumentality, but without losing personality and objectiveness.
The album starts breathtakingly well with “The Unimaginable Zero Summer”, which is the second-best track here for me. Full of nuances, changes of pace and emotional passages, the song is an amalgam of what is to come in terms of songwriting and execution. At the same time chaotic and contemplative, heavy and operatic, there is an energetic soul that surrounds the record and keeps things interesting at all times, if not extremely enjoyable.
Tracks like “O Resolution!” and “Sleeping Ambassadors of the Sun” take a more direct approach to the prog vibe, in the vein of Xanthochroid or Enslaved, but these intertwine with full-on folky passages like seen in something from an Orphaned Land album. Ranging at 1:06hs long, this mixing of elements is key, especially when there is such an important instrumental piece in the middle of the album like “Scentless Core (Budding)”.
The problem with an album like this is that you have to really sit down and pay attention. It’s not accessible, it’s not pure no-frills heavy metal. But even with all the different nooks and crannies, it’s still fun; that’s definitely not an easy thing to achieve, especially when you’re pumping some riffs and one second later you abruptly change your instrumental into something soothing and cadenced. And believe me, this happens A LOT here.
It would be unjust of me to point out just one highlight in such a carefully crafted record, but “Far from Where Dreams Unfurl” is a masterpiece, and perhaps their best song to date, so here it is: the pinnacle of ‘Veil of Imagination’. Evan Anderson Berry’s voice outshines everything here and the chorus is one of the best I’ve heard in the last 5 years or so. It’s epic, grandiose and tells the album’s story like no other.
Berry’s vocals resemble Roy Khan’s more spoken tones, which works wonders to the band’s proposal and combine well with the guttural parts. Add that to the brilliant sense of wonder and awe seen in tracks like “The Tyranny of Imagination” and closer “When the Fire and the Rose Were One” and you got yourself a winner.
As the album already came out last year independently, there is little more I could say that you haven’t heard already from other media of by yourself. ‘Veil of Imagination’ is musical art at its purest form, without sounding pretentious or scaring away the listener by its complexity.
This is the highest rating I ever gave in my 5 years at Metal Wani, and I’m happy to do so for ‘Veil of Imagination’. A landmark for Wilderun and a breath of fresh air for metal in general, this transcends being a simple release, much like recent acts like Atlantean Kodex or Visigoth did with their brands of heavy metal, paving their way into history with competence and brilliance. And this is what Wilderun has been doing since their beginning, which is more than impressive, to say the least. Iconic.