Friday, 5 December 2014

Wayfarer - Children Of The Iron Age (Album Review)

Children Of The Iron Age cover art

Album Type: Album
Date Released: November 24th 2014
Label: Prosthetic Records

Children Of The Iron Age – track listing

1.The Earth Only Endures 01:08
2.Forests Ash By Dawn 10:01
3.Toward Mountains 10:42
4.The Elemental 10:29
5.Stormcall 03:58
6.Children Of The Iron Age 08:50
7.A Place Among Stars 08:18
8.Skysong 15:11
9.Cities Built on Conquered Ground 06:01

Bio

WAYFARER is a four piece band hailing from the Rocky Mountains of Denver Colorado. Through a storm of riffing and unrelenting atmosphere, the band creates a sound that feels at once archaic and elemental, and ultimately human.

WAYFARER came together in 2012, after recording an instrumental demo the previous year. With the lineup complete, the band then cut its teeth playing out in the burgeoning Denver underground, and began work on their debut album “CHILDREN OF THE IRON AGE”; a lengthy epic of blackened atmospherics interwoven with entrancing acoustic passages and driving, powerful post-metal soundscapes. The album was recorded in early 2014 at Flatline Audio in Westminster, Colorado with Shane Howard (Martriden) and mixed and mastered by Dave Otero (Cobalt, Primitive Man, Cattle Decapitation). The debut album was followed by subsequent touring of the Western United States with Denver cohorts DREADNOUGHT over the summer. 

Members

Shane McCarthy
Tanner Rezabek
Isaac Faulk
James Hansen

Review:

There are some bands that really capture the feel of their home environment in their music. Kyuss are inextricably linked with the wide open spaces of the desert while Down evoke the steamy swamps of New Orleans. Following this fine tradition, Denver’s Wayfarer effortlessly distil the timeless grandeur of the Rocky Mountains of their home in Colorado. “Children of the Iron Age” is their debut LP and over the course of its mammoth 60+ minute duration the band craft a monolithic wall of sound, every bit as ancient and powerful as their surroundings.

The album opens with the brief acoustic instrumental “The Earth Only Endures” before a curt drum fill ushers in the thunderous intro of “Forests Ash By Dawn”. What follows is ten minutes of furious riffing and melodic passages, falling away to reveal hushed acoustic guitars, gentle drums and faraway chanting before jolting back into a glorious distorted climax. Aside from the four minute instrumental oasis of calm of “Stormcall” at the heart of the album, the rest of the album offers further epic voyages into the abyss and beyond.

Wayfarer draw on a number of obvious influences but combine them to create a distinctive and affecting sound that is very much their own. The main noticeable inspiration here is the atmospheric post rock informed black metal of bands such as Wolves in the Thorne Room and France’s Great Old Ones. These bands and those from the more post metal end of the spectrum like Isis tend to rely on a vast arsenal of effects pedals to build their many layers of noise. Wayfarer manage to create similarly dense and textured compositions using a simple palette of reverberated distorted and acoustic guitars. This lack of reliance on technology to create strange sounds and greater emphasis on dynamic playing leads to a stark simplicity which lends a weighty emotional punch to these songs.

Before fully filling out the band to the membership and sound it has now, Wayfarer cut an instrumental demo in 2011. Although an instrumental version of “Children of the Iron Age” would still be an engaging listen, this fact highlights an integral ingredient in the bands sonic alchemy – the vocals. Huge, expansive roars and screams accompany the ebb and flow of the bands lengthy, complex orchestrations, sounding like echoes from a bygone age.

Wayfarer share a further similarity with the aforementioned Wolves in the Throne Room; the inspiration of nature on their music. The lyrical matter here seems to focus on the power of nature, reinforced by a well-placed sample of revered comics scribe Alan Moore reading from his seminal 80s work “Swamp Thing” at the climax of lengthy closer “Skysong”. The sound of Moore’s strong Northampton accent lends an extra quality to the stirring finale, particularly when he delivers the words “If nature were to shrug, or raise an eyebrow, you would all be gone”.

The only minor issue I have with this album is its lengthy running time. Although there are no bad songs here, the six ten minute tracks that make up the bulk of the record make for rich but exhausting listening. A shorter overall duration or a variety in track length and complexity could have made for a punchier listen but as it stands the edge is taken off the overall impact due to the sheer vastness of the material.

This a minor point though that shouldn’t detract from the fact that Wayfarer have crafted something very special here which is sure to when them a legion of admirers. The display of towering ambition exhibited by this debut demonstrates that Wayfarer look set to reach even greater heights in the future.

Words by Charlie Butler

Thanks to Kelly at Prosthetic Records for sending us a promo. The album will be available to buy on Vinyl/CD now from Prosthetic Records and Digital Download from BandCamp.

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