Wildernessking - The Devil WithinWildernessking is a great band. Their sounds is well-developed, nuanced, interesting and even back to when they were Heathens, they had a choke-hold on the craft of song writing. That they continue to develop and have not garnered the attention of the big(ger) labels who should be clamoring to support them surprises me. Is it because they’re from South Africa and can’t be expected to tour? Is it because the world is riddled with unequal chances and they haven’t gotten in front of the right eyes? Or is it because Angry Metal Guy didn’t get his ass in gear and review the band’s EP The Devil Within, the second follow-up to the band’s remarkable debut The Writing of Gods in the Sand? As a man with an inflated-enough sense of self to believe that starting a blog to air his opinion out on the Internet was something that everyone would be dying to read, we’ll go with the latter. So I’m here to make amends. And I’ll start with a TL;DR: buy this.

If you need more words to convince you, I’ll put it like this: The Devil Within continues Wildernessking‘s stretch of engaging, atmospheric black metal production that started back in 2010—albeit under a different moniker. While the band certainly lands far more in the Agalloch or Enslaved camp now than they did on their early black n’ roll work, what has continually set them apart is how well-balanced and well-composed their music is. Wildernessking succeeds at blending moody melancholy with subtle melody, the songs can be slow to develop but they’re always layered and, most of all, addictive. The production, which drowns out Keenan’s bass because it’s too densely mastered (DR7), still has a natural sound and a (pretty) balanced mix. This sound places the band nearer Portland than Oslo, and is topped off with luscious guitar tone and airy production.

The Devil Within is only three tracks; opener “Lurker,” which starts as a slow build that almost feeds directly into second track “Flesh,” is a driving wall of sound which ranges between Alcest and Marduk in feel. “Flesh”—the strongest of the three—starts off with a late-Enslaved groove. This middle track is so hooky, despite its atmospheric side, that it stuck out immediately and has kept me circling back through repeated listens. The final track, “The Devil Within,” is an epic that clocks in at 10 minutes long. While Wildernessking‘s biggest weakness has been a tendency to get a little long-winded—see: “Discovery“—even at 10 minutes the title track entranced me to the last second and sent me back to press play all over again. Few records—EPs or otherwise—inspire that kind immediate drive to hear more.

Wildernessking is my favorite black metal band right now. They produce metal of the utmost quality, and as they continue to develop their own sound they exude a savvy and confidence beyond their years. The Devil Within is the closest thing to perfect that an EP can be; it entrances me now while whetting the appetite for 2015’s coming full length. I cannot wait.

  • contagioned

    They’re honestly one of the only metal bands I follow and keep up to date with on my own nowadays. Shit’s good. The band itself, or at least the one member that always does the PR-type things, is really cool, too.

    I’m pretty annoyed that their latest releases have just been single songs for compilations/splits, but they’re still really good songs.

    Still, I’ll patiently waiting for their next release.

    • I think Keenan is the dude who does most of their PR stuff, and he’s an extremely cool guy. That band just has its collective head screwed on straight, though. They get it.

  • This EP has a lot of good music, they are really deserving of the praise of this review.

    • Yeah. Basically, these guys are producing gold right now. I can’t wait for more stuff.

      • Our Fortress Is Burning


  • Doomdeathrosh

    I have to say they’re style of black metal is very much build-up oriented, which they do really well! Lurker really has me intrigued!

  • OzanCan

    I can’t get this high quality of metal in Istanbul. I hate missing it >:(
    Oh well, here I come bandcamp!

  • Our Fortress Is Burning

    Just wanting to say that the Angry Metal Guy team have a done a good job with the “Things You Might Have Missed 2014” choices. They are very thoughtful, and well chosen. This is the type of stuff that I go looking for, the hidden gems that may have gone relatively unnoticed. I’m sure that other readers appreciate these reviews too.