American black metal may be a well-established genre, but how many Americana black metal bands can you name? Wayfarer is one of many bands inspired by the atmospheric folk accents of Agalloch, but the Denver group uses bleak tremolo runs, a mix of tribal drums and blast beats, and acoustic breaks to create an aesthetic based more on the Great Plains than the Rocky Mountains. Their third full-length album toys with this formula further and sets the band even further apart from their peers.
World’s Blood is easily Wayfarer’s most accessible album to date. The songs are still mostly ten-minute affairs with a couple of shorter tunes rounding things out, but they come out more digestible due to an overall shorter forty-five-minute runtime. The production is also slightly cleaner, with the guitar specifically sounding less brittle than before. This results in a much dryer and less claustrophobic sound than what came before, creating a wide-open environment for the Western style to more naturally expand.
This more sweeping approach is further exacerbated by shifts in the musicianship. The guitar tone is more muscular with riffs that aren’t afraid to venture into near doom territory. The drums allow the tribal influences to shine through more often while still allowing room for plenty of barrages. It gets to a point where songs like the opening “Animal Crown” draw comparisons to High on Fire.
Wayfarer’s folk aspects are also more strongly defined on World’s Blood. The soft interludes and acoustic instrumentals are nothing new, but they’ve never been this well integrated nor exercised the Americana aesthetic to such a degree. “The Crows Ahead Cry War” best demonstrates this shift as it boasts an epic desert atmosphere and smooth tempo transitions alongside its rather awesome title. “The Dreaming Plain” achieves similar results and “A Nation of Immigrants” makes for a smooth melodic closer.
Wayfarer’s third album accentuates the band’s Wild West approach to black metal and thankfully ends up being far less tacky than one would expect. It greatly benefits from the natural evolution that led up to it as well as the thrilling shifts in songwriting and musicianship. It remains an extreme metal album through and through, but I can imagine fans of desert rock and related genres finding a lot to enjoy here as well.
“The Crows Ahead Cry War”
“The Dreaming Plain”