Sometimes, a band can so slickly combine various recognizable influences and elements that they end up creating something brand new, or at least something all their own. I feel that way about the new album from Wilderun. “Veil of Imagination” released on November 1st, and I have been continually impressed with the level of detail and ambition on display here.
Wilderun hails from, surprisingly, Boston, Massachusetts. Listening to the band, I would have never guessed that. The band consists of Evan Anderson Berry on vocals, guitars, and piano; Dan Müller on bass, synth, and orchestrations; Jon Teachey on drums; Joe Gettler on lead guitar; and Wayne Ingram on orchestrations.
The band describes their style as “metal, prog, orchestral, folk” on their Facebook page. Honestly, that is a pretty good rundown of what you can expect. What that means, though, is that you will hear influences from various bands. You will definitely hear the progressive death of Opeth and the color of Devin Townsend, but also the epic folk metal of Wintersun and the neoclassical metal of Symphony X. I would say that you will also hear the high prog rock of bands like Haken, too. Additionally, the orchestral side of things feels highly influenced by the likes of John Williams to me. Now, the band does not copy any of those artists in any way, but I can feel their blood coursing through the bands’ veins, and the results are rich, ambitious, and illustrious.
When pondering this review, I considered just including an entire paragraph of adjectives that would describe how I feel about this album. Listening to “Veil of Imagination”, you will be taken on a journey that is equal parts poetic and guttural, heavy and melodic, artistic and technical. This is an album that begins and ends with poetic readings from “Ode on the Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood” by William Wordsworth, and also from “Little Gidding” by T.S. Eliot, and that in between gushes color and texture all over the place. In some ways, I am reminded of the Moody Blues’ “Days of Future Past” because of the high orchestrations, the poetic interludes, the somber and metaphorical ideas, and the fusion of genres. The sheer scale and enormity of it all is honestly difficult to process on the first listen.
The vocals on this album are really something to behold. Yes, there are both clean and harsh vox, though I find the second half of the album has far more clean than harsh. Anyways, both are done extremely well. As far as I can tell, Evan handles both. His clean singing is pure and sounds almost innocent in presentation. His harsh vox are deep and very, very dark. Additionally, you will hear plenty of choirs and chants throughout the album, which add to the dense layering of sounds that this album offers.
“The Unimaginable Zero Summer” starts the album with a progressive death punch. It bleeds and rages and immerses itself in the grandness of its own design. You will hear possibly some of the heaviest and most guttural moments of the album on this first track, and, if you are new to progressive death, believe me when I say that there is light at the end of the dark tunnel. The second half of this 14 minute track shifts into whimsical musings and cinematic, symphonic stylings that feel both grand and personal. The final minutes are majestic but also tender.
Most every song on this album is worthy of discussion. For instance, “O, Resolution” starts off sounding like something off of Haken’s “Aquarius” to me. It soon adds monastic choirs until it drops off a cliff directly into Evan’s fantastic voice. It is such a beautiful song that has plenty of transitions and huge moments. “Sleeping Ambassadors of the Sun” feels like it is going to be a ballad at first, and much of it is indeed in that style, but also showcases quite a dynamic contrast between sounds at some points.
I could go on and on about the songs on this album. I, however and while gritting my teeth, am going to highlight only two more. “Far From Where Dreams Unfurl” is perhaps the most accessible song on the album. It is primarily stocked with clean vocals, and the melodies are instantly attractive. In some ways, it is the best “song” on the album, though some of the tracks are more brilliant and complex, if you know what I mean. The final track on the album is called “When the Fire and the Rose Were One”. This song, to my ears, feels extremely hopeful, like looking into the past and also into the future at a day when unity and harmony are achieved. The song begins slowly and really builds in theatrical, cinematic fashion to great heights of musical depth, and I think the final rhythm of the album is perhaps the greatest. The song also ends with poetry, sealing this album into your mind without a doubt.
So, when I consider “Veil of Imagination”, I believe Wilderun has entered the world of highly intelligent, utterly extravagant progressive music. The album flows with inspiration, purpose, and introspection, and that kind of music instantly attracts me. For me, Wilderun is one of the bands to watch for the future.