Tonight is an opportunity to escape to the wild west with atmospheric black metallers Wayfarer. Given America’s rich Wild West heritage, it’s baffling that it’s taken this long for a band to weave together metal and American folk inspired by the western post-Civil War period. For some odd reason, many American folk bands prefer to boringly focus on the trendy Nordic myths and legends. With the rise of Native Americans incorporating indigenous themes into black metal, perhaps it was just a matter of time. In addition to Wayfarer, Untamed Land now exists, providing a Summoning-style black metal interpretation of Ennio Moricone’s western soundtracks. This live show in Glasgow is part of these Americans’ debut tour to the UK, accompanied by England’s promising black/death metallers Wode.
Manchester’s Wode are putting modern UK black/death metal on the map. Since 2016, they’ve released three stellar albums, impressively signing with Avantgarde Music and then the highly lauded 20 Buck Spin. Their musical offerings concentrate on a potent brew of atmospheric, crushing and gloomy riffs. There’s a wealth of variety that maintains attention throughout each track. Their creativity certainly sets them apart from the usual retro death metal that inhabits their record label. While the four-piece deliver a vigorous show, the sound unfortunately muffles their metal. Nonetheless, the crowd emphatically headbangs along to the likes of Serpent’s Coil and Lunar Madness. With refreshing extreme metal like this, it’s effortless to appreciate how Wode has enthralled the underground in a relatively sparse amount of time.
As the intro tape of The Curtains Pull Back concludes, headliners Wayfarer instantly gallop into their set with The Crimson Rider (Gallows Frontier, Act I). Atmospheric black metal is deftly bolstered by Wild West-inspired folk music. The guitar work of Joe Strong-Truscelli and Shane McCarthy is extremely proficient, imbuing the anthems with sophisticated complexity that nods towards progressive metal. 2020 witnessed the Americans release their fourth album, A Romance with Violence. Most of the set comes from this full-length, including The Iron Horse (Gallows Frontier, Act II), Fire and Gold and Vaudeville. Many of the tracks possess a reflective and mournful outlook on how the West was won, perfectly crafted for this black metal subgenre. In parts, the music evokes the likes of American metal bands Agalloch and Cobalt.
These outlaws full-on headbang throughout the show, forcing the audience to pick up on their energy and mirror their actions. Unlike for the supports, Wayfarer’s sound is significantly clearer and faithful. One change from the recorded output concerns their drummer Isaac Faulk, a member of death metallers Blood Incantation who are also on tour. Faulk’s replacement is Lev Weinstein from Krallice and Woe, who has no problem getting into the saddle.
When frontman McCarthy announces that the next song will be the last, the punters react extremely disappointed. McCarthy remarks that the setlist tonight makes up all of the band’s repertoire that Weinstein knows, so an encore looks unlikely. The final song is Animal Crown from World’s Blood, a sublime way to conclude a set of historical Americana metal and ride off into the night. This show was a breath of fresh air in the saturated atmospheric black metal scene. Here’s hoping that Wayfarer return to Glasgow on their next European trek.