Photo by TOM COUTURE
If you’ve been paying attention at all to the blog in the last couple of years, you’d know that almost no other album has struck bigger waves in our little community than Wilderun‘s Veil of Imagination. Released in 2019, the album offered up a new, unique vision for what progressive death metal might sound like; bright, expansive, drawing influence from several different sub-genres of progressive metal at once, Veil of Imagination didn’t really sound like anything at else at all. Except when it did, daftly weaving in references to genre greats such as Opeth, Devin Townsend, and more even as it was laying out its unique sound and concept.
So, naturally, when Wilderun announced Epigone, to be released on January 7th of next year, we were all very excited. When the band released the first sounds from that album, we were even more excited since it seemed that the band were continuing their penchant for sounding unique. The new music was definitely Wilderun but different once again, drawing on more folk instruments and quiet passages to create a dynamism well beyond anything we heard on Veil of Imagination. Simply put, it sounded great and I had no choice but to channel my eager excitement for the album somewhere. Luckily, the band were kind enough to take some of my questions, which I bring to you in full below!
As you read, don’t forget to pre-order Epigone right here and, if for some ungodly reason you haven’t yet, please listen to Veil of Imagination. Let’s get to it!
Hello Wilderun! Thanks for taking the time to chat with me. Let’s start with a question about your previous release: what sort of “aftertaste” has Veil of Imagination left with you, as a band? It’s undoubtedly your breakout release. Do you feel like you’re playing catch up with it? Or are you excited to spring from it to new things?
WAYNE: We all love Veil, and super grateful for how well it was received. But we definitely don’t ever want to try to repeat ourselves. We are not looking to create “Veil of Imagination II”, but rather keep exploring new sonic territory and be as innovative as we can. Veil is a whole vibe unto itself, and I think that material has musically said what it needed to say, and is complete. I think as a band, Veil showed us that if we focus on taking some risks and just making music we think sounds cool and not try to be one specific genre or another, that’s ultimately more fulfilling.
Staying on Veil of Imagination, it has an elusive lyrical concept to it. Where do you draw inspiration from when constructing your album’s lyrics, themes, and concepts?
EVAN: Most things lyrical for me come from looking inwards. Sometimes I will try to connect it with broader observations of the outside world, but even then the source of the idea and feeling begins with some introspective analysis of my own inner workings. To be honest, my own lyrics become somewhat elusive to me even when I’m writing them. I’ll have some vague sort of core feeling and/or thought, and I try to find interesting ways to convey that, but I’m often surprised at what comes out, and how differently it’ll end than how it began. It’s really a personal exploration for me, and I’m trying to learn more than I am trying to tell. For “Epigone”, you really don’t need much more than the album title to get a general grasp on where my head was at when writing.
Moving on to your upcoming release, Epigone is certainly still heavy but also features a lot of quieter, intimate moments, especially on its opening few minutes. Do you approach these quieter passages differently when you compose them? What sort of role do you see in your music for the tension between quiet and loud? Also, is that a banjo I hear?
WAYNE: Haha no banjo, but there are tons of Americana instruments all over this record. Hammered dulcimer, lap steel, mandolin, and acoustic guitar are all over this record, and they do make their featured appearances in the quiet sections you mentioned. We really wanted this album to have big dynamic swings. The juxtaposition of heavy riffing vs intimate folk/orchestra sections is on purpose, trying to create moments of beauty and then chaos. Definitely the quieter sections require a little different mindset when composing, just because the instruments are more exposed. And we want to make sure not to overblow these sections, making them succinct, but still transition in and out of the larger sections.
You managed to release, and work on, Veil of Imagination before the worst of the pandemic hit. Is Epigone influenced by that at all? How has the pandemic changed your dynamic as a band, if at all?
DAN: Luckily most of the source material for this record was written long before the pandemic so we dodged the bullet of having to drum up too much compositional creativity in the midst of such a difficult time. However, the arrangement and production processes were much more remote than even our previous releases. Evan, Jon, and myself only got together once in the summer of 2020 to work on the songs in person and then it wasn’t until we recorded the album in January of 2021 that we saw each other again. Wayne, living out in California, wasn’t even able to travel out to the studio with us and had to record his parts in his own space. He was completely remote for the entire album cycle. It was an incredibly isolating time and (at least for me) that made working through the more difficult parts of the record-making process even more grueling. Fortunately though, I don’t think the dynamic of the band itself has been negatively affected by the pandemic. We are still best of friends even though the stress of the world was working heavily against us.
Tell me a bit more about “Passenger”. Why did you choose to release it as the first single from the track? Is there a deeper meaning assigned to the track for you, in relation to the album or otherwise?
EVAN: As always, our records are a slow burn, and usually take a few listens and some patience to fully get into. So we wanted our first single to be the one that hit harder right from beat 1, which was clearly Passenger. It is one of the most “metal” tracks on the album, so we figured that was the most direct way to attract some listeners. As with all the songs on Epigone, it has to do with the process of creativity, in particular the role that mental illness plays in creating art, and how differently it is viewed from the public than it is from the creator. Musically, we had a lot of fun using the heavier side of the orchestra and synths to match the energy and intention of the song.
One last question: which Devin Townsend album is your favorite one? All eras included.
DAN: Addicted is probably my most-frequented Devin record.
EVAN: Agreed on Addicted.