Concurring OpinionThat's How Kids Die recently reviewed the debut album of Wildernessking, The Writing of Gods in the Sand, in what is probably the most rave review I've ever read on his site. Islander at No Clean Singing also had high praise for the record.
It must be noted that this is a debut from a band out of South Africa that formed a scant two years ago by guys who weren't exactly experienced musicians. Everything about that says this should be very rough around the edges. Yet, this is amazingly well-developed, mature material that scratches just about every black metal itch I could have.
Wildernessking have been compared to the Cascadian sound, the Brooklyn sound, and the more recent work of Enslaved. All of them are apt comparisons, as the band fits every definition of progressive black metal. They have the epic, textured feel of the Cascadians, the sheer complexity of the Brooklynites, and the unhinged, screeching vocals common to many bands of both scenes (as well as the San Francisco area). Enslaved comes in the form of riffs that are really catchy and accessible despite their complexity, partly due to the production. So what you get is the best of both worlds: The ready accessibility and ear-worm quality of Enslaved, but also the epic, keep-you-coming-back-for-more of the Brooklyn/Cascadian styles.
Aside from their ability to take from the best of what progressive black metal has to offer in its myriad forms, the band has one more ace up its sleeve. The guitars don't stick to a single playing style, but instead incorporate multiple styles, often within the same riff and/or simultaneously with the other guitar. This adds one more layer of textural interest, and frees them up to write some very distinctive riffs.
The band members look a little like hipsters, and they are obviously influenced by bands that are often dismissed as hipsters. So don't tell your pal Argauth the Hammer of Hell about them. For the rest of us, who want to see black metal progress, this is a boon.
The Verdict: The Writing of Gods in the Sand is the most impressive debut I've heard since Kvelertak. It incorporates all the best of modern prog-black in a record that is both immediately catchy and has the power to grow on you. I give it 5 out of 5 stars.