WILDERNESSKING – Mystical Future (white vinyl) 12inch
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Sick Man Getting Sick Records /// SIM019
Release date: February 1, 2015
Gatefold cover, thick printed inner sleeve
A1 | White horse | 09:26
A2 | I will go to your tomb | 06:04
A3 | To transcend | 05:59
B1 | With arms like wands | 08:19
B2 | If you leave | 13:03
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Review – metal-temple.com
Having had the pleasure of seeing the band live a couple of times in South Africa some years ago, I've followed WILDERNESSKING's trajectory rather closely. And after a long wait, this year sees the unveiling of “Mystical Future”, their sophomore full-length album since their formation in 2011. What immediately stands out is the direction taken by "Mystic Future”, which has allowed an entirely new facet of the band to shine through. The untamed and almost unwieldy aggressiveness of their début has given way to a more constrained and focused feeling, which has really allowed their musical prowess to come to the fore.
Their sound typically has been and still remains difficult to tie to a specific genre. Still, it seems that the initial Black Metal backbone of their music is falling more and more to the wayside, replaced instead by a slew of influences ranging from Shoegaze to Atmospheric to almost Stoner vibes. As an example of this, take the roiling riffs of "I Will Go to Your Tomb", which skilfully entwines these influences into the repetitive strains, giving rise to something that instrumentally could have just as easily come from ENSLAVED. Here, WILDERNESSKING have managed to balance an atmospheric build-up through the use of repeated melodies, whilst keeping things interesting and fresh through all the subtle variations woven in, creating a scintillating web of sound. This is no mean feat, and has been the stumbling block for many a band.
The production is rough, with a hollow and expansive feel, allowing the vocals to take wing in the cavernous sound whilst still remaining anchored by the drums. Rather than attacking with a finely honed blade of music, WILDERNESSKING have rather chosen to devastate with crashing waves of drony melody. Nevertheless, their music still has a biting edge to it that prevents it from becoming background music, but rather remains captivating. Almost delicate yet undeniably intense in its more melancholic parts, such as in the instrumental section of "To Transcend" all the way through to the ponderous, eonian, and roving feel of “White Horses”, the album ebbs and flows with an effervescent energy throughout. In contrast to this, the minimalistic and morose start to "With Arms Like Wands" epitomises an emotional introspection which is completely captivating. This slower pace swells and blooms into an intriguing song that meanders through a fragile soundscape before waxing into gripping and frantic yet equally tenuous mesmeric whirlwind. And then from the miasma arise the female vocals on "If You Leave", giving it a keening edge, which makes the later almost overwhelming power of the song all the more poignant. Ending off abruptly after this raging storm, "Mystic Future" leaves you with a cliff hanger, fuelling the desire for more.
What I love most about this album is all the hidden little facets; it seems that with each new listen you discover some new and equally enthralling side to the music. If you're a fan of the whole Post movement prototyped by bands such as ENSLAVED and ALCEST, then this is definitely a band worth checking out. In a genre where so many Atmospheric/Post Black Metal albums sound stuffy and cliché, WILDERNESSKING are truly a breath of fresh air.
Memorability: 9 | Production: 8 | Song Writing: 9 | Originality: 8