Wildernessking – Mystical Future


A striking piece of work…

Review by Jason Guest

Les Acteurs De L’Ombre Productions: Website; Bandcamp; YouTube; Facebook

Release: 29 January 2016

A new band to these ears, researching Wildernessking’s history has been a distinct pleasure. Formed in Cape Town, South Africa in 2010 under the suitably impious moniker Heathens, they would release a couple of fairly average EPs with little in the way of originality. 2011 arrived and so did a name change, their new name bringing with it a more refined approach soon to be evidenced on their 2012 debut album, The Writing of Gods in the Sand. And the difference between the bands is phenomenal, particularly as it happened in such a short time. Black and progressive, textured and atmospheric, the debut album leant more towards the Cascadian end of the dark spectrum and its complex song-writing and multi-layered structures remain the foundations of a very impressive debut.

Wildernessking – Mystical Future Vinyl artwork
Wildernessking – Mystical Future Vinyl artwork

Not a band to waste time, with 2012’s three-track …and the Night Swept Us Away EP the band ventured further out into the progressive and the atmospheric, a trait that continued into 2014’s The Devil Within and the two tracks on their two split releases of 2015. The black metal aspect of the band playing a less domineering role in their sound as their progressive bent and compositional skills advanced, Wildernessking’s own identity has become more pronounced since their inception. And so 2016 sees the release of their second full length, the enigmatic Mystical Future. Here, we see the band taking that necessary next step in their evolution, but it is far from laboured or contrived. The key elements evinced in their history are present, yes, but they are more refined, the tracks sounding natural, each of them plotting their own distinct path while balancing change with growth.

‘White Horses’ has a hypnotic heft that pervades its melodically-charged and melancholic climate. Opening with a surging riff, ‘I Will Go To Your Tomb’ soon morphs into a progressive track that explores an ever-broadening landscape of enthralling depths and dimensions, a key factor in the meditative ‘To Transcend’. Given enough space for its dark light to shine, the band’s skills in subtle transformation come to the fore in this track as it charts an intelligent and emotional ascent that prepares us beautifully for the fervour and the disquiet of ‘With Arms Like Wands’. And with the thirteen-minute epic ‘If You Leave’, Wildernessking achieve a balance between beauty, devastation and profundity that is chilling in its scope. Down-tempo passages, a ghostlike haunting female vocal, expansive atmospherics, riffs that radiate both a warmth and a sadness in a constantly evolving structure, it’s a mighty piece of work.

Okay, so Mystical Future gets a little self-indulgent here and there, but what album doesn’t? Whether Wildernessking can be considered as forward thinking as they perhaps would like is up for debate but it can’t be denied that this is a striking album, one that is as moving as it is touching and as powerful as it is vast. An album to spend time with, this is one that necessitates returning to time and again.

Wildernessking – Mystical Future CD
Wildernessking – Mystical Future CD artwork

8 out of 10

Track Listing:

  1. White Horses
  2. I Will Go To Your Tomb
  3. To Transcend
  4. With Arms Like Wands
  5. If You Leave