"A Romance With Violence"

By Dr. Abner Mality

My search for something new brings me to the dusty plains of the mythical American west, where we find WAYFARER spinning tales of gunslingers, railroads and sudden death. The bloody true history of the West and the more romanticized version of movies and TV offers a lot of fertile ground for an enterprising metal band to explore. With WAYFARER we get something that's part Morricone and part PRIMORDIAL, part Americana and part raging metal. It's a sound that I may not always be 100% into, but for sure it's carved out its own territory, which is nothing to sneeze at.

"The Curtain Pulls Back" gives us the sound of a honky tonk piano from what could be the Long Branch Saloon, a wistful and very Western sound that you would expect to hear. Violins and sparse guitar join in and much like the title would indicate, the scene is being set for a melodrama. Then "The Crimson Rider" powers into your speakers with a wall of intense guitar and a feel that's half majestic, half rustic. This song bounces between metallic power and a more acoustic driven section of Americana. The vocals also morph from screaming rasp to campfire croon and finally an abysmal croak as the long song climaxes with a blast of blackened metal that still retains a certain dusty frontier feel. This is not like anything else I've heard in the extreme metal realm. "The Iron Horse" is sad and jangly as it tells a tale of Indians and buffalo laid waste by encroaching railroads, becoming harsher as it rumbles along with strong drum work propelling it and sometimes sound like the clacking of iron wheels on rail. "Fire And Gold" will test the patience of those looking strictly for metal, as the tune is almost pure Americana with clean, sad vocals and a kind of electrified country feel.

WAYFARER certainly likes their widescreen epics, as the album ends with two ten-minute plus epics broken up by an instrumental "Intermission" (again tipping us off that is a kind of play). "Masquerade of the Gunslingers" and "Vaudeville" both have echoes of Morricone and spaghetti Western soundtracks in their construction, mixing a variety of hardened sounds with cinematic sounding elements. Nobody should expect pure black metal on any of these tracks and there are parts that frankly tried my patience, but at all points you are reminded that this is something pretty unique and an artful blending of styles. For that alone, WAYFARER deserves respect and a close listen.