Released: 2010, Sensory
Wuthering Heights have done something that is pretty rare in my listening experience, namely deliver five, world class, consistently awesome metal records. Many bands suffer the ‘sophmore slump’, have line-up changes, song-writing becomes uninspired, bands become influenced by external developments in the musical genres, dabble with alternate influences under the guise of ‘growth’ …not these guys.
I got on the bandwagon very early when I ‘discovered’ these guys (Like I can take any credit!) on their debut. I’ve been a big supporter ever since. My colleagues here at Metal-Rules feel the same because their albums are consistently rated very highly. The consistency and stability will help a band but only take them so far. The song-writing and performances have to be the key element and thankfully they still are.
The whole album has a bit of a nautical theme, but not pirates but more seafaring and the trials and tribulations that come with it. Songs like ‘The Mad Sailor, ‘Weather The Storm’, 'Lost At Sea', you get the picture….SALT is still somewhat dark and ominous, especially the intro with the spoken word component “Row, Row, Row….”, (which is oddly listed as ‘roll, roll, roll’ in the lyrics) but overall the album has a touch lighter and more upbeat feel than THE SHADOW CABINET. There is a bit more instrumental diversity with the accordion and Hammond organ presented by guest musician Tommy Hansen. Some of these fast songs sound like a full-on metalized jig!
Lyrically, the band explores some well-worn territory but add a new twist. For example in the song 'The Field', the lyrics touch on the well-worn topic of the lament of the traveler who longs to be home. However, in the case the story tells a tale of a man, an adventurer who just wants to settle down and be a farmer and is reflecting on his life and the value of the simple things in life, a family a home and so on. There is far more lyrical depth about the seafaring life here than for example a Swashbuckle or Alestorm (both excellent and fun bands by the way)
There is a very decent combination of slightly melancholy cuts intermixed with burst of speed giving each song a lot of diversity. This diversity is crucial because there many long songs on the is album, almost all of them eclipse the six-minute mark. However, because of the diversity and tempo-changes, the songs never sound long nor do they drag on, all of them are fully captivating.
Speaking of Mr. Hansen, Tommy handles the production chores for the fourth album in a row adding to that aforementioned stability. It is not shocking that the albums sounds fantastic, heavy in the right places, a nice mix and separation in the instruments, vocals nice and loud and clear. Nils has to be one of the best vocalists in metal today.
I would be disappointed if this record did not make the Year-End picks by some of our staff because it is a fully deserving and worthy. A very strong contender for the Top 10 and I hope many people get to enjoy this album as much as I do. Another fine chapter in the Wuthering Heights saga.