A Romance With Violence
Oh man. I’ve been obsessing over Wayfarer for years and I can’t believe I’ve never tried to write a thing about them. Before you dive in, it’s proper niche stuff - black metal meets doom metal meets post metal meets cowboys. Fairly warned be ye, says I.
In 2014 I somehow stumbled across their debut album Children of the Iron Age. This remains in pretty heavy rotation for me as it was one of my commuting albums and the musical scenery was the escape from the reality of an hour on a train twice a week. On the plus side some of the countryside I passed through now reminds me of specific tracks and vice versa so it’s built some weirdly strong bonds in my brain.
Whereas Children of the Iron age was (and is) immense in its own right, it seems like A Romance with Violence has somehow taken this beautiful experiment to a new level of experimentation and realisation of a grander vision.
The best of black metal at first feels quite obtuse and to an outside observer is just a wall of noise and screaming. But the majesty of it slowly reveals itself like an audible “magic eye” picture. As you become immersed in it you find yourself swept away and brought to a new world.
This album is the music of the American west. I read an interview with the band where they explained that they weren’t trying to write the traditional black metal of Europe because that’s not their experience. This is black metal through a different lens. And it’s glorious!
This is forboding soundscapes; this is tragedy; this is the pain and grit of a world gone by. It’s the recognition and extraction of beauty from that pain. This is a way of life told through music.
Masquerade of the Gunslingers is the stand-out track for me. The use of softer vocals and the clean passages work to contrast the maelstrom of the metal and offer hope in the bleakness. The “Intermission” before the last track, Vaudeville is a nice touch and then Vaudeville itself brings us home with the final 10 minutes once again defying the genre as we get more clean vocals, chanting, and twangy guitars before being treated to a lush choral build up to the metal returning.
I imagine there will be fans of all of the genres that these guys touch upon up in arms for the descration of their respective temples, but this just works. I’ve never found value in being a purist about anything.
It’s hard to find much info about these guys online - I’d love to know more. I’d love to see them play live and I sincerely hope that they continue to push the boundaries with future releases.