Wanderer - _Bypassing the Abyss_
(Dunkelheit Produktionen, 2012)
by: Dan Lake (7 out of 10)
Audiophiles beware: Wanderer's new record sounds like shit on a stick. Drums clatter and cymbals hiss. Guitar tones rustle out of a leaf-clogged gutter to abrade your earholes. Vocals belch and wail like a Cthulu worshipper locked in a tank of formaldehyde two labs down the hall. About the only instrument that sounds any good is the bass, and that only sparingly. But hey, it is an eight-year-old recording unearthed by Dunkelheit Produktionen for a proper worldwide release, and it's black 'n' roll, so who cares? (Seriously, who cares?)

That said, once _Bypassing the Abyss_ got its 47-minute bum-a-thon underway, it never fell victim to the ever-threatening stop button. I mean, I probably wouldn't have soiled myself if the urge had come upon me midsong, but we'll never know, will we? The beehive riffing, haunted throat torture, and choral keys somehow add up to a captivating experience that affirms the promotional claims that the album concerns "the greatness of nature and the perfection of the space towering above the human being". There is a charming lunge toward regality on _Bypassing the Abyss_ that is never entirely abandoned, even on eye-clawing ragefests like "Shades of Destiny" and "Sacrifice to the Ritual Fire". And we're also told that "a portion of the album's vocal parts were recorded in the woods and caves of Slavyanogorsk (Ukraine), with use of natural cave reverberation and natural wood compression", an image that only enhances the record's appeal.

Given the album's sound quality and the current oversaturation of Wanderer's chosen microgenre (Eastern European naturalistic pagan black metal), it's easy to justify bypassing this abyss. But attentive listeners taking a gamble on this treble-heavy triumph will reap unexpected rewards, and isn't that why we're listening in the first place?

Contact: http://www.dunkelheit-produktionen.de/

(article published 27/11/2012)

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