ALBUM REVIEW: Wayfarer – A Romance With Violence

Release Date: October 16th 2020
Label: Profound Lore Records
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Too often do exceptional artists toil away in obscurity, crafting works that deserve equal praise to that of their more renowned peers. For Colorado black metal outfit Wayfarer, that time is likely to be drawing to a close upon the release of their most fully realised effort to date, ‘A Romance With Violence’.

While 2018’s excellent ‘World’s Blood’ garnered some acclaim, it failed to propel the four-piece to the dizzying heights that they’re so clearly destined to reach. Fusing the familiar tropes of their genre with a sincere and subtle approach to Americana, ‘A Romance With Violence’ serves as a fascinating, multi-layered narrative-driven black metal opus.

While the genre’s origins are steeped in descriptive visuals and conjured images of Carpathian forests and winter moons, Wayfarer completely uproot and transfer the setting to the lawless, endlessly intriguing frontier times, i.e. the wild West.

Ferocious blast beats, dizzying tremolo picking, and harsh, inhuman shrieks and howls are subtly fused with acoustic guitar-laden desert balladry, complete with violins, saloon era piano, and detached clean vocals. Plentiful moments of reprieve are awarded to us the further we delve into this alternative history, at times simultaneously factual and fantastical.

The narrative lyrical thrust elevates the material to a grandiose, near cinematic level. Even the pacing and structure feels as if adapted from a stage-play. You have the piano intro that leads into the epic ‘Gallows Frontier’ separated into two acts (‘The Crimson Rider’ and ‘The Iron Horse’), before ‘Fire & Gold’ takes a detour through the desert plains while the stage is set for the magnificent ‘Masquerade Of The Gunslingers’. Each act is awarded its own changeover period while the audience digests the latest developments.

Moving like a gothic neo-Western, the lines are continually blurred between historically accurate depictions and visual moments of near cosmic horror. A nuanced commentary on the prevalent romanticist violence of America’s past, the real world brutality of this Western era becomes increasingly frightening when juxtaposed with more fictitious elements.

‘A Romance With Violence’ is a truly captivating and commendably detailed work, one that traverses the expansive horizons of Western lore with a dynamic approach to modern black metal, while never shying away from sonically twisting itself in whatever manner befits the narrative.

Not only one of the strongest and most unique metal releases to come out all year, but living proof of the potency and range with which the genre can still operate.