Wilderun play progressive metal with elements of death and symphonic metal, and touches of folk. This simple description does little to fully describe how good Wilderun are at weaving these various influences together on Epigone.
This is an ambitious record. The music is grandiose and extravagant, but has a surprisingly intimate heart; the band wield emotion well, and across the album’s 63 minutes they craft immersive soundscapes that are deeply infused with feeling.
The songs have cinematic scope and flavour, and craft atmospheric worlds for the listener to explore with ease. They are very well-written and a rich range of different ideas are well-realised and executed across the nine tracks. The compositions are layered and textured by the band’s various influences and creative nuances, resulting in a very enjoyable and satisfying journey for the listener to undertake. Wilderun’s symphonic components are delivered at a higher level of skill and ability than you usually find in bands that use orchestration and synths. Colourful and rich, these parts are completely embedded in the band’s music, allowing the band to paint with not only broad strokes but also with fine detail and clarity.
For all of the splendour of the record’s orchestration though, there’s a darker introspection that casts a shadow over proceedings, preventing them from becoming too extravagant or ostentatious. However, rather than be restricted by this, the band embrace it, digging deeper into the material’s substantial depths and embracing the rewards that come from this. The folk and acoustic aspects of the music help to ground the album’s ambitions in reality. This further emphasises the dark nature of the record, while also demonstrating a firm grasp on why it’s important to not limit yourself to just one thing; Wilderun have a shaded and nuanced interpretation of darkness, with enough room for plenty of light and shades of grey in the album’s multifaceted delivery. In effect, these songs shine with a certain level of brightness and colour, but have a darker underbelly that’s ripe for exploration over time.
I’ll also point out that Wilderun never lose sight of their metallic core. In addition to all of the above I’ve noted, they also know when to let the distortion kick in, unleash the deep growls, and let loose blast beats and huge riffs. As always though, everything the band do is tastefully integrated with everything else; Wilderun have the full package, and know what to do with it.
The only caveat to all of the above is the short track Ambition, which is a pointless filler interlude piece that adds nothing.
Anyway, apart from that one misstep, Epigone is an exceptional release by an exceptional band. If you’re a fan of intelligently-crafted progressive metal, then this album is one not to miss.