Wandersword
Waiting For War

Part of this writing endeavor is getting sent records by unknown obscure bands. Sure, we get to review Soilwork, Nile and other international super acts that really don’t need our lip service — but it’s so more rewarding to get a promo from a band like Russia’s Wandersword, and be able to spread the word and pass on some cool music to our readers and get a band some followers they might not otherwise get.

Originally released in 2012 on Firestorm Productions, Waiting for War is now being re-released by Blasphemour Records with English song names and album title (because В ожидании войны would be a pain to type over and over again). And what a wonderful little record this is. At its heart, it’s a melodic death/black metal record with Viking flourishes (as if that cover didn’t clue you in). Think if Svartsot or Amon Amarth softened a bit, added some synths and some typical Eastern European, pagan folky atmospheres (Obtest and Paganland spring to mind). And for the band’s first actual album, despite being around since 2005 under various other guises, Wandersword come across as season veterans with a strong grasp of Viking themed riffs and moods that come together for a killer album. With a nice crunchy guitar tone and gruff death metal vocals, with the odd Pagan choir or orchestral bit here and there, Wandersword don’t beat you over the head with folk or Viking elements and promo shots, but rather, let the atmosphere come through in the riffs and tasteful synths.

The title track is actually a nice opening instrumental that sets the Viking-tone perfectly before “The Valiant Viking” gallops and canters with rousing effectiveness, without being too cheesy. “Scarlet Sunset” blazes with a beefier Ensiferum pace and third track “Strange Ships’ Trail” has a very cool little melody line in the chorus. So, with the first two songs alone, Wandersword really show that they are a competent, confident band. But it does not stop there or tail off; you get the epic mid-paced march “Masters of the World” and personal favorite “Peaceful Guard”, with its upbeat crunch and bounce — laced with what sounds like delicate harps. That’s pretty unique in all the Viking/folk metal that I have heard.

“Warriors” is the album’s most blatant Viking number, with a pure Amon Amarth riff mixed with some more extensive ‘Wiking’ vocal. “Northern Gates” opens with war drums and horns, before delving into more sweeping black metal territory. Closer “Russia”, sounds well Russian with some nifty melodic blasting and Baltic orchestration amid the heavily accented vocals that stray from the death metal growls for a moment.

Wandersword is one of the more promising Viking metal acts that I’ve come across recently in a genre that’s dominated by veteran, predictable (but no less enjoyable) acts. Don’t be surprised if this worms its way onto my year end list somehow, as it adds freshness to a genre that sorely needs it. I hope this review exposes the band to a few more folks that will feel the same.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by E. Thomas
May 13th, 2013

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