Wilderun - Sleep At The Edge Of The Earth (2015)

The world of folk metal stretches around the global. You could run down a list of your favorite bands, and not even stay in the same country. Italy. Switzerland. Sweden. Finland. China. But while they are all cut from the same sonic cloth, there are very few traits that truly tie them together. With a rise in popularity, the genre has exploded over the last five years, spawning world tours, album sales, and a number of could-be's or not-quite-there's the world over. But sometimes, you find what you're looking for a little closer to home. Hailing from Boston, the four piece act known as Wilderun are finally giving proud American metal fans a horse in the race. If you're looking for something straightforward and familiar, though, you might be in for a listening experience unlike any you've had before. On their new album, Sleep At The Edge Of The Earth, this domestic dynamo may change how we perceive the folk and metal genres.

There is an incredible amount of majesty to be found here. It isn't buried or even obscured; in fact, it is front and center. You get a significant taste early, as the intro track Dust And Crooked Thoughts lays out thick and yet airy orchestrations. But the album is much deeper than first impressions lead you believe. Because where Wilderun succeed is in their ability to be multidimensional, a versatile combination of style and substance. This isn't a coin with two sides; beauty and brawn are not exclusive to one side or the other. Instead, each sequence of tracks bends and shifts together in a profound way. The four part Ash Memory saga exemplifies this merger, a constant give and take between bright and dark, often residing somewhere halfway in between. In one short span, you'll be lulled into a sense of safety and security by lightly plucked strings, only to be brought crash back down at the stroke of a drum stick onto a snare. The final two minutes of The Faintest Echo, the fourth installment of this group, may even be a microcosm for the album itself. It rises from the quietest of melodies to a roar of thunder, and back again.

Make no mistake, though; Wilderun are not another typical folk metal archetype. They simply do more. Songs like The Garden Of Fire, spanning nearly ten full minutes, delivers in ever conceivable way. From the sweeping symphonics to the otherworldly growls, this is beauty meets beast in the best way possible. Vocalist Evan Berry runs the entire spectrum of delivery methods, adopting a soothing croon and a soaring tone when necessary, and a demonic scream mere seconds later. The orchestral compositions, meanwhile, embody a cinematic feel, one that transports you to somewhere you've never been. The depth of sound stretches well beyond the foreground, layers cascading farther and farther with each track. And all the while, whether you're immersed in the heavy or the sublime, there is an air of triumph to attach yourself to. It has the power to bring you to your feet, bring your fist into the air, or just take your breath away. If The Means To Preserve doesn't accomplish one of those results, itd be wholly surprising. As for the title track, Sleep At The Edge of The Earth, it plays like a lullaby for the ages.

It's easy to like Wilderun. The music transcends genres, destroying any hope for containing it. Paired with the album artwork, taken by Alissa Müller, it creates a package that is both inspired and dynamic. It almost feels too good to be real. And that's what may make it even more impressive. Whereas some bands choose to cram as much as they can into an album, throwing away continuity for what they believe to be wider appeal, Wilderun do what comes naturally. They've found a home in the space between folk and metal which, over the course of a decade of dissecting albums, seems to be an ever shifting balance. It works for some, in the same way it fails for others. The failures here are non-existent; the album flows as beautifully from first note to last as any we've ever heard. They're not Eluveitie. They're not Ensiferum. They're not Elvenking. They are, in fact, something more. Sleep At The Edge of The Earth might even be the best folk inspired album you'll ever hear.

10/10

Bandcamp - https://wilderun.bandcamp.com/

Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/OfficialWilderun