One of the most enduring quality’s of the extreme Hardcore and Metal scene is the global community which has sprung up over the last thirty years. From the early days of tape and zine trading via the postal service to our modern digital age, where we are able to scope out bands from other states, country’s or even continents. Thanks in part to the advancement of technology, this ability to connect and discover some mind-boggling musical projects has helped amplify and spread the disease known as Extreme Metal. It just seems that everyday there’s some new band, from some distant corner of the world whose sound is truly original and pushes the boundaries just a little bit more further. In all honesty though, because of my geographic location (New York City to be exact) and my lack of time, a vast majority of my music collection tends to hail from Europe or North America. Honestly, both continents have long been the bastions of Metal. The source of trends and thriving, nurturing scenes in a sense. But times are changing very quickly. And the rest of the world has caught up. And maybe even moving past what has been traditionally been considered the epicenter of this musical sub-culture.
Enter Wildernessking. Brought to the worlds attention by perhaps one of the finest labels supporting underground metal Les Acteurs de l’Ombre Productions. Wildernessking’s newest release entitled Mystical Future is a signal flare shot up from their home in Cape Town, South Africa for all the world to see. A bold, dramatic, and at times, serene take on the ever-evolving sound of Metal. Within the moments of sheer sonic rage and tempest-born vocals are these quiet, harmonious elements that are capable of soothing even the most savage beast to be found in the pit.
While only six songs – which is the only disappointment about this release – Mystical Future show’s off a brave, new and unique voice from this young band. Wildernessking skate between a Enslaved meets Deafheaven sound. Without ever coming across as a blatant rip-off of either one. With those influences firmly cemented as a base for their band, these four young man have quickly acclimated to their own vision and sound. One that ignores the pageantry and theatrics which Black Metal hinges on most of the time. Instead, these four young men have take those roots and allowed them to grow into something not so much maligned or evil, but darkly enchanting and unique.
“White Horses” cracks this album open with a quiet, shoegaze-styled guitar work as the rest of the instruments lazily come in like a hot summer day. The peace and tranquility that Wildernessking first showoff breaks into a post-hardcore explosion, one that escalates into a more noise-filled, slightly tinted Black Metal haze and meanders down a almost dream filled six minutes that culminates in an bellowing, triumphant ending. ‘White Horses’ stands as a nine and half minute introduction into the six chamber, dissected heart that Mystical Future composes. And while the term ‘Black Metal’ will be thrown around when describing this band, especially considering the massively Nordic sounding second track “I Will Go To Your Tomb.” But applying that genre specific classification to this band would be slipping a noose around their neck and kicking the chair right out from under their feet.
The fitting title for the third song “To Transcend” firmly breaks away from the pace that the band has set and moves into an almost transcendental realm. With a heavy dose of Times Of Grace and A Sun That Never Sets era-Neurosis styled ritualistic vibe to it. Throughout it’s duration, the listener is treated to a transcendental, meditative passage that lulls one into a deep, reflective sense of being, which allows one to take a deep breath and reflect not just on the first half of this album, but prepare themselves as to what will be unleashed next. The following two tracks, respectively entitled “With Arms Like Wands” and “If You Leave,” are the show-stoppers of the album. Each one showcases the entire, tight-knit package that Wildernessking have assembled for our cursed ears to partake in. In particular, the closing portion of “If you Leave” intertwines soft vocals underneath the heavy screaming and technical wizardry that these four contain. At this point with the album, it became crystal clear to me that this wasn’t just a one-trick pony. But a project that contains a hefty dose of potential and talent just waiting to be really tapped into.
What makes this album, outside of just the sound that the band summons forth, is the relative isolation and limited exposure they’ve had within the global metal scene – a fact that most assuredly will be changing as this album gets more and more attention. It’s bands like Wildernessking that keep this often saturated market so interesting. A unique blend of style and vision, combined with the will to strive and create something that isn’t just blatant musical heresy, but an actual artistic output. Mystical Future runs the gambit of rage-filled scorn, beautiful moments of personal introspection and the solemn moments one spends wandering within a forest. And while there is definite room for this project to grow, they should feel encouraged; even inspired to continue digging further into the core of their ideas and collaborative relationship. Hopefully, Wildernessking heed the call which echoes forth from their individual beings and are able to produce an even more stellar release following this one – and based off all the merits of this record, I have a strong feeling that is going to be the case.