On their sophomore “sequel” effort, ‘The Lost City’, Indiana’s The Wise Man’s Fear find ways to be both brutal and beautiful, sometimes in the same minute. Preferring a strict metalcore approach over the current trends in the wider expanses of their scene, TWMF play a cinematic and crushing form of the genre dubbed “fantasycore”, grabbing attention at every turn.
When an album begins with a track titled “Cataclysm”, you hear believe the rest of the record is going to be something explosive. And it certainly is. From the first note of the opener, breakdowns devastate and guttural growls from mainman Joeseph Sammuel permeate the dense sonic darkness. As the record goes along though, it settles into a clean dynamic of ‘heavy song, ambient song’ albeit in varying enough ways to keep the listener interested. “Pneuma”, for example, may sound lighter, but its content regarding a man’s lamenting on the loss of his home is anything but.
TWMF are fans of instrumental breaks and creating climaxes using them, almost in a way that reminds me of Born of Osiris’ keyboard parts. A great example of this is “Gray King”. And there are moments too, where this group truly excels at crafting a catchy, huge and emotional metalcore sing-a-long sans background elements, especially in singles “Blackroot Forest” and “What Time Brings”, potentially the two best songs on the record. The theme of death and finality abounds, especially in these two songs and singer Tyler Eads portrays the proper amount of drama in his voice to suit the message being delivered as narrator.
From here on out, TWMF aren’t afraid to explore different approaches to being heavy. “The Forges of Ire” is as metal as its name sounds, going for an almost Underoath-esque dissonant approach to the relentlessly flailing rhythms. “The Deepest Dark” though, possesses an abrupt and sustained breakdown so satisfyingly destructive that I am tempted to send Whitechapel this song with the message “Do more of this”. The record progresses into its most wonderful melodic/brutal balances and I’ve got to give Tyler Eads props where it is deserved for the moments where he gets the spotlight. “Codex” and “Bloodlust” feature more of his signature smooth, emotive choruses and they are appealing to the ears as well as heartfelt. Guitarists Nathan Kane and Codi Chambers add satisfying layers of atmosphere behind Eads’ vocal melodies to enhance the beauty.
“Dreamscape” actually opts entirely for atmosphere and singing, true to its name. Drummer Paul Lierman is the lyricist for the band and its in the closing title track that I am especially on the edge of my seat for whatever comes next in this trilogy. It leaves enough ambiguity yet reveals enough about the predicaments of the protagonists to produce wonder. I’d have to say this is a band that is pretty fantastic at developing a concept and especially on this album.
Without giving too much away, I view this record as a total Game of Thrones homage and it won’t disappoint its listeners. For a band that is still developing, The Wise Man’s Fear deserve more praise for their attention to detail and dedication to their craft. Anyone looking for a new metalcore band in the ways of the old in the midst of all this “nu” should join The Wise Man’s Fear on their journey.