Wild Hunt- Before the Plane of Angles

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Monday, May 14, 2012

It will likely take a few spins of Wild Hunt’s debut album Before the Plane of Angles before most listeners will truly get a good handle on everything the band is trying to do. The Oakland based group channels elements of progressive rock, doom, heavy metal and even some black metal tonality throughout the course of their debut and is able to tie it all together into a cohesive mix. It is a lot to take in all at once, especially considering that Before the Plane of Angles is meant to be absorbed as a whole but for the adventurous listener there is a lot to be gained from taking the time to do so.

Wild Hunt begins and ends their album with a sixteen minute song, and they make sure to utilize this length of time to head in many different directions while maintaining a seamless flow. Even when the instrumentalists cut things down into the 8-9 minute range they still offer a stunning amount of variety. A song may start off with chilling riffs that are reminiscent of some of the Cascadian black metal acts, head into much lighter progressive rock territory, and then throw in some riffs that feel closer to traditional heavy metal. In between each track the band ties each piece together with an ambient interlude, which gives listeners a slight reprieve from the soaring melodies and harsher sections and allows them to try and piece together what they’ve just absorbed. It always feels as though Wild Hunt is exploring something different on each song while still maintaining a common sound, and that makes the album feel more cohesive. Admittedly there are a few times where the melodies drone on just a bit longer than they need to, but the breathtaking moments more than make up for it.

Lead singer Harland Burkhart is also the band’s drummer, and I’m not quite sure how he is able to offer such a wide variety of vocal styles while also ensuring that the drum work stays in sync. His vocals start off as a harsher scream that is slightly distorted but still clear enough to make it easy to make out what he is saying. From there they also head into completely clean territory, enhancing the progressive rock feel of the tracks they appear on. The clean singing doesn’t have quite as much energy as its harsher counterpart, but it does suit what Wild Hunt is trying to do. Burkhart definitely impresses though, and I would be curious to see how his drumming/singing combination transitions over to a live setting.

Before the Plane of Angles is an album with many faces, and each time Wild Hunt seems to be settling into a distinctive sound they head off in a different direction. There are some stunning moments, particularly when the combination of harshness and melody intertwines to create atmospheric soundscapes. With that being said though, I do have to wonder how much of the album will remain with me months from now as there are sections that don’t stand out quite as much. Only time will tell, but for now if you’re looking for a metal album that’s a journey rather than a handful of songs this is a group you should investigate.


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