Wayfarer – A Romance with Violence (Review)

Wayfarer - A Romance with ViolenceWayfarer are a US black metal band and this is their fourth album.

Wayfarer are shaping up to be one of my favourite black metal entities of the last six years or so. The quality levels of 2014’s Children of the Iron Age, 2016’s Old Souls, and 2018’s World’s Blood have made for an enviable discography. Now, like clockwork, 2020 sees a new Wayfarer album, and A Romance with Violence is another sterling release to add to the band’s history.

Wayfarer have evolved to offer up a distinctively American take on black metal. A Romance with Violence is steeped in its subject matter, and mixes together an atmospheric and folk-tinged version of the blackened sound that the band have made entirely their own. A Romance with Violence is the next logical progression from World’s Blood, and should hopefully see them have many more laurels heaped upon them as a result of it.

These new songs are highly engaging and compelling, not to mention satisfyingly enjoyable. The album has fury and violence in its makeup, as the title would suggest, but is also home to subtlety and nuanced expressions that add texture and depth. Melancholic atmosphere and forlorn mood is near-ubiquitous and intermingled with the aggression so completely that almost every second of the 45 minutes here drips with emotion and feeling of one sort or another.

This is a gripping piece of work, and once started, is hard to leave alone. Heavily atmospheric, occasionally achingly beautiful, and sometimes startlingly brutal, I really like what Wayfarer have done with their style; this may ultimately be a form of black metal, but it’s a heavily personalised and contextualised one that’s been individualised and customised to a great extent. Creative and convincingly well-crafted, these new songs are among the best the band have ever penned.

As much as I thought World’s blood was a great record, I’ll tentatively state my preference for A Romance with Violence already, despite still knowing the former better at this point. Time will tell if I’m right or not, but I suspect I am.

Essential listening.

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