Reviewed: February 2022
Released: 2022, Century Media
Reviewer: Kat Knite
On January 7th, Boston, MA’s imaginative and strange prog-metal wizards Wilderun released a brand new and utterly indulgent record by the name of Epigone. This album was produced by the band to encompass the full scope of their wild creativity, as they dive head-first into complex progressive structures and grandiose orchestrations – signatures of their identity.
Vocalist and Guitarist of Wilderun, Evan Berry, says this of the record:
“An ‘epigone’ is a follower or imitator or an acolyte of sorts, usually used in the context of art or philosophy. /
Every song on this album grapples with that concept in some fashion, each through a different point of view. My own feelings of failure, struggling to present myself genuinely, as well as the general resentment of identifying at all with the idea of being an ‘artist’, were the jumping off points of this theme. However, the lyrics aren’t necessarily written to be coming only from my personal perspective, even though they are obviously heavily informed by my experience. I think each of these struggles transcend the plight of the artist and attempt to touch on something more fundamental.”
The depth of such introspection is reflected heavily in the constructs of their music. While Epigone‘s predecessor, Veil of Imagination, had more of a glowing feel to it due to subject matters of childhood, and how life winds and grows through us as we become adults, Epigone‘s vibe certainly sits deeper and darker in the mind. Before the pandemic hit, the band had reached the acceleration point most artists dream of; they signed to Century Media and were playing live for big audiences, like the one at the 70,000 Tons of Metal Cruise. Then, the members were suddenly separated, with no idea how long the isolation would last. As the rest of the band tracked their parts in Syracuse, NY, Dan Muller recorded and arranged his intricate synth work and orchestrations from California. Guitarist and composer Wayne Ingram worked on his orchestrations as well, maintaining an ever-evolving and complicated composition through each. This worldwide halt of nearly everything we were used to doing would not be the downfall of these persevering artists – evident in the layered soundscape of each track is an astonishing level of detailed input from each member. Mixed by Jens Bogren, (Opeth, Arch Enemy), Epigone reached masterpiece status by the last of the final touches.
Songs range from 2:40 to 14:11, flowing effortlessly between folky acoustic motifs and heavy, death metal inclinations with a prominent orchestral component that remains undying and core to the sound of Wilderun. ‘Exhaler’ welcomes us to this universe with emotional acoustic guitar, touching vocals and lyrics, and gorgeous strings. This has me hooked! When ‘Woolgatherer’ follows suit in the intro, I can feel good things to come from the record. In their grand, unique fashion, the band burst in, full of fervour, and display their vast scope of abilities to convey emotion with rhythmic and stylistic changes, which range from the fantastically uplifting spirit of a medieval band of rebels to the doom-infused spookiness of a nightmarish soundscape. An epic war battle by those aforementioned rebels is fulfilled during ‘Passenger’, which most importantly features a gorgeous melodic guitar solo (the part of most songs I’m partial to, generally). After such a high, we’re given a moment to catch ourselves within the folky notes of ‘Identifier’ – but think not that the respite will be long-lasting. This track winds through a forest of elaborate metal progression, before giving way to the shortest and most unsettling track of all: ‘Ambition’. At atmospheric whispering, a distorted voice, the creeping sounds of space beyond us… these elements combine in a way that make me feel I’m approaching an alien planet, and perhaps not one with the best intentions for my measly human self.
The final four pieces (‘Distraction’, ‘Distraction II’, ‘Distraction III’, ‘Distraction Nulla’) make up a 20 minute saga of cinematic storytelling performed from an epic dimension. ‘Distraction’ opens with an Opeth-like guitar intro, and when the full band comes in the influence is further heard within the pleasing chord progressions and timely drum breaks and fills. Gorgeous at first, it’s not long before it gets simply crazy! The strings speed up, the mood is nearly ominous, and as Distraction II rears its head the tension builds with low, chunky guitars and a ticking percussion. Then, it’s as if all the elements collide in a sonic tornado before a sudden and breathtaking switch to part three. Atmospheric and seamlessly settled, Distraction III is a stone floating in still water. Heavy in the soul, yet somehow bouyant enough to take in the crisp air at the surface… It is melancholy and peaceful. As the guitar lead begins to soar, my breath rushes moves with the rhythm of yet another neural trip. Eerie and dissonant, ‘Distraction Nulla’ brings the journey to an end – and what a show it’s been.
Esoteric at its core and laced with escapist themes, Epigone is not one you want to miss if you wish to expand the world within yourself. Get your copy today and you’ll also get to hear two bonus tracks – Everything In Its Right Place (CD and Digital) and Exhaler (Synth Mix – only Digital).