There is a little treasure hunter in us all, you mean you don’t get excited when you find a dollar out in the street? Well I found a little treasure here and that is the debut EP from Wandering Oak from Massachusetts. In existence since 2012, this is their first official release, a 4 song EP entitled “Advent”.
Whether there are some demo’s floating out there or not I don’t know, but if this is the first real release, it is very impressive for its finish, vision and focus. Stylistically, I would say they are progressive, dark folk along the lines of fellow Bay Staters Wilderun, not all over the place progressive but enough to create some interesting time changes without just noodling around. Other bands that stuck out to me as a comparison were sadly little known Noire from Canada and “super group” Twilight Of The Gods not only musically (where TOTG and Wandering Oak worship the almighty RIFF) but also in vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Robert Pollard’s forest screech to baritone and back again delivery reminding me of Alan Averill.
There is definitely a straightforward metal base here with folk (mostly acoustic guitar) added in to round it out. The four tracks average under 6 minutes in length although album closer “Tenalach (Where The Elders Dwell)” swings the scales being over 8 minutes while the other 3 tracks are 5-5 ½ minutes. Agalloch fans rejoice as upon repeated listens I was reminded of them as well, good stuff all around. Musicianship is solid all around (current line up besides Robert comprised of Dylan on guitar, Manuel on drums and Shane on Bass) and shows that they all have their act together. I also really appreciated the guitar breakdown parts and actual guitar solos which are not as prevalent in folk metal as they could be. While the first three tracks are all decent (“Annwn”, “The Nektarkin’s Plight” and “Sanguine Moon I”) the previously mentioned “Tenalach….” Is certainly the highlight for me with its whistle intro and more ambitious song structure, hopefully a harbinger of things to come? Self-produced, “Advent” has a slight boxiness/trebley sound to it, which helps in some of the vocal and guitar sections to give it a more desperate sound to it but it does lose some of the punch it could have. For a first effort this is as complete as it gets and may be a little more on the progressive side than folk but still interesting enough for folksters to get into in my opinion… great debut.
- Annwn 05:39
- The Nektarkin’s Plight 04:59
- Sanguine Moon I 04:56
- Tenalach (Where The Elders Dwell) 08:13