CD Review: Wilderun / Olden Tales & Deathly Trails
Boston’s own Wilderun stand apart from their folk metal contemporaries due to their adherence to American folk tales rather than the much more common European legends. Their debut record Olden Tales & Deathly Trails encapsulates this both in terms of melody and lyrics; many of their themes are lifted from early American folk songs and naval legends.
The record opens with soft melodies worthy of a film score before building into a thundering metallic overture. From there, Wilderun goes full bore, crafting a folk metal feast for the listener. The galloping “Storm Along” is certainly a high point, and “The Dying Californian” is a fine coda to the album.
Vocalist Evan Berry effortlessly switches between death growls and clean singing, the latter reminiscent of Turisas frontman Mathias Nygård. Wilderun’s orchestral arrangements complement the heavy riffs rather than overpowering them. Strings and flutes carefully balance out crunchy guitar lines and a pummeling rhythm section; make no mistake, there’s some serious metal to be found amongst the traditional instruments. Sea shanties and such don’t seem like much to work with, but Wilderun expands them into rich pieces wherein there’s a lot of ground to cover; most songs clock in at over seven minutes in length.
For a self-released record, Olden Tales & Deathly Trails has absolutely pristine production. I’ve heard many modern “professional” records that don’t sound nearly this good, and it’s not a case of overdoing it with heavy digital polish. The bandmembers and production team clearly knew exactly what sound they wanted and how to mix it, ensuring that each instrument is clear and vibrant.
Olden Tales & Deathly Trails is a stellar debut, indeed. From here, Wilderun has nowhere to go but up. You can order the album on CD and in a variety of digital formats here.
(Full disclosure: I was present for Wilderun’s first live performance, and I’ve since spoken with guitarist Wayne Ingram about the creation of this album. My copy of Olden Tales & Deathly Trails was not provided by the band, however; I paid for it out of pocket. So should you!)