With October coming to a close and the cold weather approaching here in the wilds of Canada, black metal often comes to the minds and playlists of many metal heads. The genre which embodies the coldness of the north, and the sense of melancholy accompanying it. Sometimes however, for the best examples of the style, we need to change where we choose to set our gaze. In this case, we shift our focus southwards, to the days of the American Frontier. Wayfarer’s latest release trades out sword, sorcery, and the footsteps of Frost Giants with the crack of Winchester rifles, the chug of steam engines, and of the turbulent, violent and undoubtedly grim history of the founding of the new world.
A Romance With Violence is the American black metal band, Wayfarer’s, follow up to their excellent 2018 album World’s Blood. This album sees the band continuing their unique blend of black metal and Americana they have been creating since 2016’s Old Souls; and which they in my humble eyes, nailed with World’s Blood. The fusion of stylings is a natural yin and yang in my eyes. The sombre, bleak country songs of old, meet the cutting bite of black metal guitars, pained vocals and vivid, atmosphere laden sonic vistas. This is a blend that could go very wrong, but these Colorado boys are able to pull it off to a masterful degree.
A Romance with Violence sets its tone immediately from the very first notes of its Spaghetti Western flavoured opening, which gives way to the distorted guitars of The Crimson Rider. Throughout the album, the compositions weave out like a great western saga. The wall of sound frequently gives way to clean passages, acoustic instrumentation and simple, yet effective clean vocal passages. Fire and Gold is a standout song for me. It is pure, honest Americana done with just enough modern flare to work, and it is absolutely top-notch stuff.
The excellent production is immediately noticeable. The guitars sound cold, yet glimmer with a subtle warmth; not dissimilar to the sun rising on the horizon on a chilly November morning. The drums are a true stand out on this record. They pound, gallop and weave around the compositions with intensity, bringing to mind the hooves of horses galloping across the plains.
With A Romance with Violence, Wayfarer have brought another shining example of how spiritually similar, but often unfairly separated musical stylings should be blended. Bleak, yet invigorating songs of conflict, from a difficult and often controversial history. The very essence of the black metal genre thrives on difficulty and the darker sides to this life and world we inhabit. The band understands this completely and brings to light a history that is as intriguing as it is difficult. With winter approaching, the long nights dawning, A Romance in Violence is simply a must listen for fans of the genre. It’s a cold, honest well-crafted piece of black metal, dripping with whiskey and peppered with the sounds of revolver fire, and I can’t recommend it enough.