Wild Hunt

Before the Plane of Angles

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In the olden days of, oh, the start of the new millennium, most any music that fell under the genre descriptions known as "doom" or "sludge" was bound to be synonymous with terms like "basic," "primitive," and "unsophisticated," but then the new movement alternately known as post-metal or metal-gaze ensued, and such automatic assumptions were discarded forever. And so, as the third millennium's second decade gets under way, we bear witness to a proliferation of so-called progressive or avant-garde doom/sludge bands, and it's in this soon to be very competitive arena that Oakland, California's Wild Hunt have a chance to leave their mark...no pressure, guys. Fortunately, one of the reasons we reminisce on the not so distant past is precisely because of how advanced and fully formed Wild Hunt's debut, 2012's Before the Plane of Angles, sounds for a first effort; it's even rather original, which is obviously no mean feat this late in the genre-melding music game. Having said that, the band almost shoots its wad (in a manner of speaking) on very first track, "Eidetic Parallax," which is a 16-minute epic encompassing dreamy ambience and slushy brutality, plus a universe of styles, vibes, and intensities found between either extreme. Subsequent offerings like the clean-vocal-laced "Window to the Nether" and the post-metal-informed title track manage to add occasional new ingredients to the group's recipe, but others, such as the ruthless "Panorama" and the ethereal, spectacularly titled "Unravel the Veil of Separation, Bask in the Serenity of Discord," can only offer proportionately downsized "mini-mes" to that first song's towering Doctor Evil. Still, such is the beguiling juxtaposition of polar emotions and unrelated styles packed into Wild Hunt's peculiar sonic template that anyone partial to long-term musical payoffs (and good headphones) will probably dig this release immensely.

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