WILDERUN

Folk Metal • United States
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Wilderun is a progressive/symphonic folk metal band from the United States. Originally conceived as a solo project of Evan Berry (vocals, guitars, mandolin), Wilderun became a full band in 2012 and released their debut album, Olden Tales & Deathly Trails, independently in September that year. The group followed up with Sleep at the Edge of the Earth in 2015.

- biography by adg211288 (Updated April 2015).
Thanks to adg211288 for the addition

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WILDERUN Olden Tales & Deathly Trails album cover 4.82 | 5 ratings
Olden Tales & Deathly Trails
Folk Metal 2012
WILDERUN Sleep at the Edge of the Earth album cover 4.31 | 7 ratings
Sleep at the Edge of the Earth
Folk Metal 2015

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WILDERUN Sleep at the Edge of the Earth

Album · 2015 · Folk Metal
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adg211288
Sleep at the Edge of the Earth (2015) is the second full-length album by US folk metal act Wilderun. I must admit that Wilderun's eventual follow-up to their debut album Olden Tales & Deathly Trails (2012) has been one of my most anticipated albums since pretty much as soon as I first heard their debut. To me, Olden Tales & Deathly Trails is not only a cracking debut, but one of the very best records of recent years. So naturally the expectations are high for Sleep at the Edge of the Earth.

Musically Sleep at the Edge of the Earth features the same sort of blend of folk, progressive, symphonic and melodic death metal than made up Olden Tales & Deathly Trails. Wilderun are a band that sound like a lot of other big name metal bands were thrown into a blender and they were what came out afterwards. Back in 2012 the band was first mentioned to me as a sort of cross between Turisas and Ensiferum but there's really more to them than that; a nod to extreme progressive metal acts like pre-Heritage Opeth is a valid comparison too. Vocalist Evan Berry could easily be considered to have similarities to both Turisas' Mathias Nygård for the style and tone of his clean singing but also to Opeth's Mikael Åkerfeldt for the way he can launch into a very deep and powerful growling voice as well. There aren't any real surprises to be found in the album if you've heard the debut, but while I know that some people tend to be critical of records that don't break an artist any new ground, if it isn't broke don't fix it and Olden Tales & Deathly Trails certainly didn't leave an impression that Wilderun needed to fix anything.

With that said, I do thing that Sleep at the Edge of the Earth is a slight step down from the debut but that's really no big issue; truly outstanding records like Olden Tales & Deathly Trails are always incredibly tough acts to follow and if Sleep at the Edge of the Earth were only half as good as it then we'd still be talking about a successful follow-up. But this isn't only half as good, it's much better than that.

The album opens in a similar manner to its predecessor with the short intro track Dust and Crooked Thoughts before moving into a four part suite of tracks known as Ash Memory. Though broken up into parts, it's effectively a near twenty minute piece that showcases a wide range of Wilderun's different sounds, from soft acoustic folk passages, epic symphonic parts, to extreme metal sections. The rest of the album features three reasonable long tracks between approximately the eight and eleven minute marks, followed by another short track to close. If there's a notable difference to the overall vibe of the album though compared to Olden Tales & Deathly Trails it's that the folk elements have a less lively and more subdued feel to them this time, which may not seem a lot when put on paper but changes the dynamic of Wilderun's music a fair bit to my ears, enough to give Sleep at the Edge of the Earth its own identity. The whole album is like one big highlight that deserves to be listened to from start to finish without interruptions but I guess if I need to namedrop one specific track then I'd be leaning towards The Garden of Fire. A good track for newcomers to first experience the band I think.

I may prefer their debut, but Sleep at the Edge of the Earth is a very satisfying follow-up from Wilderun, leaving no feelings of disappointment that it isn't quite as good. One of the best records I've heard so far from 2015. 4.5 stars.

WILDERUN Olden Tales & Deathly Trails

Album · 2012 · Folk Metal
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adg211288
Olden Tales & Deathly Trails is the debut album by US folk metal act Wilderun. Originally a solo project of their lead vocalist, guitarist and mandolinist Evan Berry, Wilderun became a full band in 2012 and released this album in September the same year off their own back.

On one hand it may seem that Wilderun are a group that wear their influences on their sleeves. They play a style of folk metal that was described to me before I heard them as Turisas crossed with Ensiferum, and that is pretty much what you get with Olden Tales & Deathly Trails until you take note of the rest of the description that was given to me; that Wilderun is a more progressive combination of the above. Olden Tales & Deathly Trails is, you see, a more eclectic approach to the folk metal genre than most, combining progressive structure with symphonic and folk sounds, folksy vocals and atmospheres, with doses of extreme metal that can come across as either black or death metal in nature depending on the section of the music at the time, although it is mostly death metal you’ll hear on this side of things.

The resulting sound makes Olden Tales & Deathly Trails a contender for ‘metal album with the most epic sound’ award 2012. In fact although there have been a lot of amazing albums this year the only other contender for that title would be power metallers Pathfinder and their album Fifth Element, although it’s pretty clear to me that Olden Tales & Deathly Trails is the more successful album in terms of quality and ambition.

You’d think though, based on the amount of influences being drawn together for this album that it would be difficult to class, but honestly it isn’t. Although there are parts of the music where it is withdrawn, Olden Tales & Deathly Trails is obviously a folk metal release at heart. You have traditionally styled folk instrumentation, the folksy guitar leads that bands such as Wolfchant and Heathen Foray have utilised, folk styled symphonic parts in addition to the more regular symphonic sounds that actual symphonic metal bands are known for, folksy clean vocals and the general atmosphere of all seven of the tracks has a folk sort of quality and structure to it.

Of course, Olden Tales & Deathly Trails is also equally describable as a progressive metal album because of its eclectic nature, which mostly comes from a varied structure, but the album isn’t as outright progressive in the way that progressive metal bands like Dream Theater are. Although with the descriptions I’ve given so far it doesn’t need to be spelt out, Olden Tales & Deathly Trails is far from a ‘vanilla’ or ‘traditional’ progressive metal album. Actual progressive instrumentation is present, but it is not the apparent driving force behind the album. That is very clearly folk since there is very rarely no hint of it at all.

Although there are plenty of growling vocals to be found, which are pretty good death metal styled growls, it’s the clean vocals I like most about Wilderun’s music. I think they are where the main Turisas reference comes from, as Even Berry’s tone and style reminds me a lot of said band’s Mathias “Warlord” Nygård, only Berry I think has a stronger growl to accompany the excellent folksy clean vocals. As with Turisas’s music the vocal style is absolutely perfect for what Wilderun is doing. I do quite like the growling sections in the album, but I also have no doubt that Berry could carry a whole album with just clean vocals.

With every song on the album an excellent composition in its own right Olden Tales & Deathly Trails is a high quality debut offering from Wilderun. It numbers among the best debuts of the year and rightly deserves a place at the high end of people’s best of year lists and 5 stars are easily deserved.

(Originally written for Heavy Metal Haven (http://metaltube.freeforums.org))

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