UNTAMED LAND “Like Creatures Seeking Their Own Forms”
By Lord Randall
A solo project from Akron, OH’s Patrick Kern, UNTAMED LAND was touted as (no word of a lie) “…the world’s very first metal band incorporating the feral sounds of classic, old western cinematics…” back when 2018’s “Between The Winds” came out, and I laughed about it back then. That this outright falsehood is still being used to promote UL has now reached the point of irritation for me. DIABLO SWING ORCHESTRA and ARABOT have injected more of an “old western” feeling from time to time into their music, and they’re from Sweden and Norway respectively. And that’s to say nothing of ACROSS TUNDRAS and WAYFARER – both of Colorado – who’ve focused entire albums on capturing that feeling since 2003 and 2012. Do your homework.
Anyway, onto the actual music to be found on LCSTOF. What we’re presented with in ‘Once Upon A Time In The Kenoma’ is a 3-minute intro dragged out to song length that really doesn’t go anywhere, meandering about in the badlands of Kern’s idealized/fantasized version of the American Old West. ‘A Nameless Shape’ is simply haphazard, a muddy mix, overdone keyboards when a piano would have done better, and Kern’s more-suited-to-black-metal caterwauling, and even that typical in delivery. I’m just over four minutes in and bored to tears already, with around ten left to go. At about the halfway mark, an interesting bridge pops up, but with the keys mixed too much to the fore, the riff and drums that could’ve grabbed my attention are lost in the desert, as are the higher-pitched vocals which might have made me give the tune another spin later. A step up in quality from what’s come before, ‘The Heavenly Coil’ gives the guitar its time to shine in the instrumental section around that lasts around 1/3-1/2way through…until the keyboard yet again ruins another good night at the saloon.
Ending with another song-length outro, LCSTOF has proven to be just what I, sadly, expected. If someone would shoot the piano player off his stool from time to time, if there were any destination for the journey we’re supposedly taken on, if, if, if… In the words of Gordie LaChance in “Stand By Me”, “Wagon Train’s a really cool show, but did you notice they never get anywhere? They just keep wagon training.”.