Album: Into the Wild
Have you ever ventured into a forest just to listen to the cacophony of sounds surrounding you? The diversity is astounding. The same can be said for people watching in a crowded city square. There is no shortage when it comes to the variety of things you see and conversations heard—and aside from the obvious pun, this makes Into the Wild a practically perfect title for Wildways’ debut full length album. Formerly known as Sarah Where Is My Tea, Wildways’ reinvented image on Into the Wild is one of wondrous diversity. From atmospheric post-hardcore to raunchy, party-powered metalcore, Wildways prove they can hang with the genre’s heavier acts while still slow things down and entrance the listener with ear-soothing ethereality—the only question becomes whether or not the album’s sprawling run time and all-over-the-place sound stylings are too much for most listeners to handle.
Instrumentally, Wildways are poppy at points and skull-crushing during heavier segments. Percussionist Kery Parker is an expert when it comes to guiding the band towards blistering intensity or beautiful, balanced melody. “What You Feel” is an excellent example—here, Parker hits both battering, bold drum patterns as well as more subtle, soft styles that give the track plenty of room to breathe. The lead single from Into the Wild, as well as tracks like “D.O.I.T.” Hold this in stark contrast, featuring belligerent patterns where Parker—along with bassist Harry Oldman dominate the listener with an unrelenting low-end. Oldman, like many bassists in the contemporary post-hardcore and metalcore scenes, sticks mostly to the background, beefing up Parker’s kick drum where need be—meaning a great majority of Wildways’ fretwork comes from guitarists Sergey Novikov and Slava Kavlenas. The two rarely steal the show when it comes to flashy solos or intense, technical riffing, but they eloquently sway between softer, serene segments (“Skins,” “Slow Motion”) and sinister breakdowns (“Faka Faka Yeah”). More often than not, the two favor subtlety or aggression—causing the back half of the release to seem longer than it really is as the last three tracks blend into each other without much differentiation. More importantly, it makes quicker and more crushing songs (“Don’t Give Up Your Guns” especially) stand out and break up the album’s lackluster tail end. Ultimately, tracks like “Faka Faka Yeah” and “Skins” being on the same album is enough of a whirlwind to keep most fans of heavy music curious enough to see the entire album through.
Vocally, Wildways are just as unique as their instrumental diversity would have you think. With Russian rapping, ruthless screaming and soft clean singing all vying for the limelight on Into the Wild, the band surely don’t surrender to monotony. Frontman Toli Wild is a chimera, touching on several styles with expertise. “Illusions & Mirrors” is a great example—with electronic portions that highlight his vocal acrobatics, a catchy chorus to serve as a home to his clean vocals and a bouncy, bold breakdown for his harsh yells, Wild gives the listener his all. The only hiccup therein is where Wild’s singing comes across as corny—or his accent makes certain lines sound awkward and maybe a little silly. Ultimately, it’s out of his control—so it’s hard to hold it against him–it’s just worth noting that several moments of “Slow Motion,” “Illusions & Mirrors” and “Wings” would be catchier were it not for the pronunciation barrier effected by his accent.
Clocking in at dangerously close to an hour, the biggest issue with Wildways’ debut release is that it is, simply put, too much. Even with the band touching on several styles, many of the softer choruses start to sound regurgitated—to a point where the listener can almost swear they heard the chorus to “Wings” somewhere else on the album. However, where length is an issue, it also comes with a silver lining—giving Wildways countless chances to make a fan out of a skeptical listener. Those who wrote the band off on the cringey video for “Faka Faka Yeah” are missing out—as that song is really the only track of that style out of twelve full songs. Where other tracks are still headstrong and aggressive, none pack quite the same arrogant demeanor (however, none are as heavy or catchy, either). Ultimately, Into the Wild is a wash—where several songs are great for a one-off listen and a few may even make it into a regular rotation on the listener’s exercise playlist, the release as a whole is long winded and tough to endure in a single sitting—meaning maybe, next time Wildways should stay a little closer to home.
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By: Connor Welsh