Black Metal, Folk, Post-Black Metal

Wayfarer – American Gothic (Review)

Bands: Wayfarer
Release: American Gothic
Genre: Atmospheric Black Metal
Country: USA
Release Date:27 th of October, 2023
Released viaCentury Media Records

Wayfarer from Colorado, USA are back with their fifth album American Gothic after their latest release A Romance With Violence. With that record the band started to finally branch out to a wider audience, which ultimately is well deserved given the fact that Wayfarer found their mojo on the 2020 outing, displaying an exciting genre mix. Infusing the tried and true post black metal formula with interesting textures of blue grass, american folk and country elements worked wonders in terms of atmospheric storytelling and helped the band to shape a more unique identity than on previous outings. To be fair these elements had always been part of Wayfarer’s sound but were never fully integrated into their usual songwriting in a seamingless way up untill that point.

Now with American Gothic I think it is save to say that the band fully realized their sound into full potential. Teaming up with well-known knot turner Arthur Rizk, the four piece push their Americana influences right to the forefront on their newest record and also manage to enhance their style with more gothic tendencies akin to Tribulation.

Right from the beginning listeners are greeted by a bluesy acoustic intro that opens “The Thousand Tombs Of Western Promise” and transcends (see what I did there?!) into a mid tempo black metal rage that leaves no fan of the genre unsatisfied as the sound is still punishing and heavy. The riffs on display throughout the album are very bluesy and stray away from the genres tremolo shredding for a good amount of time although not dismissing it completely (see “The Cattle Thief“). While these influences are similar to acts such as Panopticon or Cobalt, the fusion of genres is exceptionally executed here.

While the first two and longest tracks, that also would not have felt out of place on the band’s predecessor, offer more of a mixture of all styles combined and lean more into black metal territory than later pieces, it is with “Reaper On The Oilfields” and anti-climatic but great closer “False Constellation” where the band takes a step forward out of their comfort zone.

From the third track on the focus of the records clearly switches to a more nuanced, gothy approach that greatly captures the bands willingness to open their sound and create something unique. This is greatly aided by incoporating more clean vocals into the mix that work well as a dynamic counterpart to the competent, albeit sometimes monotonous, black metal shrieks. And also the instrumental follow suit in slowing things down considerably for the more mellow tracks, making pianos, synthesizers and acoustic guitars the main focus point of “Reaper On The Oilfields” and “A High Plains Eulogy“. Thankfully these two slower tracks are broken up by the concise and highly melodic black metal punch of lead single “To Enter My House Justified“, which might serve as a good starting point with the bands since it captures the essence of what Wayfarer try to achieve, being fairly catchy as a result. For the remaining run time of the record the band cleverly switches the focus on each track, delivering an engaging and very dynamic listening experience.

Repeated listens of American Gothic are highly recommended since things might seem a little unspectacular at first but the atmospheric black metal extravaganza will definitely soak in interested recipients. After spending some time with American Gothic one will find an offering which serves as a fulfilling listening experience start to finish. With their newest record Wayfarer climbed up the ladder at least one notch, solidifying their reputation as one of the genres most interesting acts once more.

Leave a Reply