Celtic folk music and heavy metal have always been a weird combination, but a band called Waylander from Ireland that really does make the odd coupling it work. It’s odd really how two genres at the opposite end of the musical spectrum fit so well together, but it seems to be that melodic Celtic touch rivalled against the distorted roar of a guitar that really sets this music apart from anything else. Presenting Kindred Spirits, Waylander’s fourth and best record that is packed full of grizzly melodic death metal anthems, armed to the teeth with folk instrumentation and bursting full of life and energy. Hold onto your hats because this is one hell of a brutal album that will blow your ear drums the second it kicks in!
It’s the contrast between complete surreal melody and pure downright aggression that makes this album stand out from your average Joe metal album. By opening in with a lush, beautiful acoustic guitar or soothing flute solo like in tracks ‘Lámh Dearg’, ‘Of Fear and Fury’ and ‘Grave of Giants’, Waylander are able to catch the listener off guard as this beautiful serenity is smashed to pieces the moment the heavily distorted guitar parts kick in. It’s a great way to set the mood and atmosphere of the piece and Waylander execute this magnificently.
Kindred Spirits is an album that is full of ferocious melodic death metal anthems that will get the listener pumped, aggressive and make them want to head bang like there is no tomorrow. Tracks like ‘Echoes of the Sidhe’, ‘A Path Well Trodden’ and ‘Erdath’ are all heavily guitar driven with soaring solos, aggressive riffs, as well as melodic chromatic scales. Without these guitar parts, Kindred Spirits would not be the album it is, and it would be a downside more melodic for sure.
There are points on the album that are quite repetitive and it would be nice to see Waylander experiment by maybe throwing into a mix a full Celtic acoustic ballad, but other than that, Waylander are a fighting force who put extremity and being brutal above the catchiness and structure of their music and it’s quite clear that on tracks such as ‘Quest for Immortality’ and ‘Kindred Spirits’ that Waylander are more of a melodic death metal band than a folk metal band, just because the folk elements are sometimes lost to the power of the music.
Although generic at points, the saying says “If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it”, and that’s exactly what Waylander have done. They have released an album that although may sound astounding and similar to music already out there, does not really go outside the box in terms of experimentation. [7/10]