Wilderun
Veil of Imagination

Let me start by being clear from the offset – this is one of the best albums I’ve heard. Ever. It contains everything I love about music, and I’d be surprised if this doesn’t rank highly among many peoples’ ‘best of the decade’ lists.

That may sound like I’m exaggerating, but this album really does need to be heard to be believed. The best way I can describe it is as if Mikael Akerfeldt and Devin Townsend conceived a child, put it up for adoption and it was taken in and raised by John Petrucci. In its formative years, the child would pal around with Michael Keene of The Faceless, Between the Buried and Me, and even take some vocal lessons from Matt Heafy of Trivium. Later in life, it would enjoy discussing art and literature with the likes of Hans Zimmer, John Williams and Danny Elfman. It would probably end up in a polyamorous relationship with Kate Bush and Elton John.

That might seem like a witches brew of influences, but once you start dissecting this album you are gifted with sonic delights that really do tick all of the above boxes.

The album opens with a spoken word recital of William Wordsworth’s “Ode: Intimations of Immortality”. I had to Google the lyrics here, as I’d never come across this poem. I was initially a little disappointed that Wilderun hadn’t opted to open this masterpiece with lyrics of their own, but this got me thinking about the type of album this is. It is not a run-of-the-mill prog metal record, to be spun a couple of times and then lost in the vast sea of other prog metal bands. It’s clear than an immense amount of effort has gone into the construction of every element of the album. Like classical poetry, it needs to be digested, critiqued, pulled apart and appreciated for the beauty it conveys. In choosing an opener by one of the greatest ever poets, Wilderun let the listener know from the outset that they’re in for an emotional and intellectual rollercoaster. By the time the outro comes round, with a recital of T.S. Eliot’s “Little Gidding”, the listener feels as though they’ve graduated from the University of Prog Metal with a first class degree in literary criticism.

First song, “The Unimaginable Zero Summer”, kicks things off with an acoustic guitar melody supported by violins and an epic choir ensemble. At 3 minutes in it morphs into a blast-beat riddled, tremolo picked monster riff, followed by a soaring guitar solo and a stomping chugging section. Mikael Akerfeldt inspired growled vocals make their appearance at around 4:45. By this point, the listener has been given a short whirlwind tour of what they can expect throughout the album, almost as though Wilderun are whetting our appetites.

I won’t give a track-by-track rundown of the album, as I don’t feel that reviewing tracks individually would adequately portray the beauty of this album. Like many other great albums, it needs to be digested as a whole. I will say, however, that there are no filler songs on this album. Every track has something unique, interesting, or downright cool going on. There are sweeping string sections (“Sleeping Ambassadors of the Sun”), sing along choruses  (“Far From Where Dreams Unfurl”), and dark chord progressions (“The Tyranny of Imagination”), all of which are memorable and hard hitting. Scattered throughout are flute melodies, acoustic interludes and some of the most beautiful and haunting piano pieces I’ve heard since Opeth’s “Watershed”.

To top the album off, the cover art is one of the most unique album covers I’ve seen in recent times. It looks like some sort of nature inspired Elephant Man bust. Looking at the artist’s other works (adriancoxart.com), the band clearly wanted to go with something that doesn’t fit a particular style, and is entirely unique. Their album cover accompanies the music beautifully.

With Veil of Imagination, Wilderun have crafted an album that spans genres, wears multiple influences on its sleeve without sounding plagiaristic, and truly lifts itself above most other prog albums being released today. I guarantee that whoever listens to this album will feel something, which is an achievement that should be celebrated.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Pat Hughes
April 3rd, 2020

Comments

  1. Commented by: GWW

    It is that good. I played it straight through 3 times when i first heard it! It has everything but it has epic pacing and arrangement, ebbs and flows and cranks up just at the right moment. A major talent!~


  2. Commented by: Erik T

    Yeah I wish I had heard this earlier, Would have been a sure fire top ten for 2019. just need to find a CD copy


  3. Commented by: Erik T

    These guys just signed to century media. hope there is a reissue of this


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