Well… here we are.
Four years in the making, probably longer, and we have the next Wilderun album. I’ve been a fan of the band since discovering their last album, Sleep at the Edge of the Earth, an album so powerful and impressive I very nearly submitted it for consideration to our A Decade of Noise feature. I really liked what the band provided me: multifaceted music that felt storied and alive, like fables from a forgotten age. I wouldn’t think this feeling would escape the band on their next album, but what I didn’t anticipate was it getting… better? Is that possible? Has to be – I’m looking the proof dead in the eyes, and it’s a marvelous thing.
I don’t know if y’all knew this about me, but I used to be a big Turisas fan. I found their symphonic folk metal very endearing and adventurous – quite something to behold for someone of a more impressionable mind when I was in my late teens. As someone that grew up and discovered other artists that fill similar spaces in different ways like Devin Townsend, it’s real easy to listen to a band like Wilderun and feel young again. There’s a sort of nostalgia to this type of music for me, one that makes me feel wistful for times past, but also emboldened with its rallying cry, like I can’t fail at whatever I’m doing.
This music was, and is, like a bulwark of soaring, catchy melodies surrounding me, fending off all my corporeal issues. A full spectrum of audible experiences capable of making you cry, smile, and furrow your brow with determination to face the day. The tone of the music is that of a really good role playing game. The divine choral vocals in pretty much every track buff you like the song of a skilled bard. The drums rumble forth the call of the wilderness with their earthly strength, not unlike a barbarian or druid. The folk elements, airy and light, beckon the image of an agile rogue or a master of the elements like a mage. It’s not hard to place this music at the background of a fantasy setting like the one I’m describing.
In total, Veil of Imagination is simply a magical experience. The folk elements are toned down a bit compared to previous Wilderun works, but in place of it, we get massive scale in other areas. I think of a world where titans roam freely, like in Norse fables; where gods were a simple glance at the horizon or towards the summits of unconquerable mountains away. Clean vocals ground us with a crystal clear quality, to represent ourselves as humans in this story. Harsh vocals are mythic in nature, torn from the bellowing throats of primeval beings unseen for eons. Together, they weave folklore of untold wisdom, legendary destruction, and insurmountable terrors. They’re not for you to overcome, but simply witness.
You may be wondering why I’ve gone this far without naming a single song from this album – very unlike me. It wasn’t a conscious decision, but rather one gradually adopted since Veil of Imagination is best experienced as one long play. That’s what ‘LP’ means anyway, right? Each song flows like a mighty river to the next, quiet moments that end one track erupt into unbounded energy and vigor in the next. To name one song is to betray the others as all of them are equally magnificent, perfectly framing its part of the story and complementing others. If you must know my favorites, look no further than the songs embedded in this review.
Throughout this album, you really feel a sense of unbridled power at work here. As much as it might not sound like it, this music was made by mortal men, men that tapped into something truly special. The arc the music follows is akin to any other larger-than-life tale – an expertly paced buildup culminating in a highly textured and layered climax, which in turn ramps down into a lovely ending that may not offer perfect resolution for its setting and characters, but leaves you with countless memories and monoliths of profound music for you to reflect on.
Any violence wrought throughout the course of this plot feel undone by the end, purified through celestial growth and resurrection. At all times, you can perceive something unknown teeming from the music – it’s the same force that chills your spine and raises your hairs like planted flags when the choirs crescendo during a chorus, or while a guitar solo rips through the mix painting serene colors across the sky. Everything seems truly boundless, like anything is possible. It makes you believe in things you may have never thought of before. This is the kind of music that takes progression to a territory unseen before, feeling mysterious and otherworldly yet housing familiar aspects so as not to cause anxiety or alienate. A perfect balance, one nearly impossible to pin down.
Veil of Imagination is the letter you get in the mail of your dreams inviting you to uncharted realms. It’s the hidden portal calling out to you as you go about your life rending daily routine. Wilderun have built a monumental, immersive experience that is transcendentally good, cradling the whole of emotional expression in its earthen hands. Their music is elemental in nature, primal in execution, and fantastic in scale. Nearly unmatched in terms of quality and pacing, it’s likely the apex of epic progressive metal music as it exists today.