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Wuthering Heights - To Travel For Evermore
The second release from Wuthering Heights starts out with a beautiful keyboard intro, setting the mood for the album perfectly. Usually I end up skipping intros and outros, but Wuthering Heights really pull these off to perfection. This release is godlike from start to finish, no filler, and not once does it let down. The mood and atmosphere are amazing, and everything flows together perfectly. They are all very talented at their respective instrument, and it clearly shows. They really improved their songwriting since Within. Well, everything has improved, save for the vocals. The vocals are not bad by any means, but not quite as good as on Within. We're only talking about a difference of one point on the 1-to-awesome scale, though the memorable choruses and the amazing vocal lines make up for this. The guitar work is more flashy, and there's a fuckton of solos here. The bass is more audible, and the bass lines are generally more interesting than on Within. The bass rarely "just" follows the guitars. The drumming has definitely also improved - the drumwork is so much more interesting here than on Within, where the drums mainly focused on keeping the beat. The keyboards have also improved - more audible, and they play a much bigger role here. The Danes behind Wuthering Heights impressed me again. They improved perfection.
The hugest improvement, though, is the songwriting. The songs are interesting from start to finish (even the 8:50 instrumental, which has the best display of guitarwork I ever did hear), and the songs flow together perfectly. Talking about Battle of the Seasons, while an 8:50 instrumental on paper sounds difficult to pull off and keep the listener interested, they succeded. It's very memorable and interesting from start to finish. The instruments flow together perfectly, and it's a beautiful piece perfectly adding to the mood and atmosphere. While the mood on Within was more in the alone/depressed category this is sadness, but with a hint of hope. It's very difficult to describe and I encourage everyone interested in prog/EU power to check it out.
The folky influences remains, although they are not comparable to Far From the Madding Crowd in any way. Speaking of which, the outro sets the mood perfectly for the following album, something that makes me all moist down stairs. That the albums are able to be played back to back and still have a smooth transition is something I approve of. If it weren't for the obvious genre-changing, obviously. This is as different from Within as it is from Madding Crowd - To Travel For Evermore is more prog than Within, but Madding is more flat-out EU power metal than the two previous. Still, this adds to the experience and I like it when a band tries something new and it happens to work for them.
Songs worth mentioning would be Lost Realms for its especially catchy lyrics, and the follow-up, Battle of the Seasons. Despite their lengt not once do they let down the listener - those two songs are 17 minutes of godlyness, where you'll worship at the altar of Erik Ravns amazing guitar work. Through Within to Beyond is also worth mentioning, as it has some of the best and most memorable lyrics. The only thing I can think of to criticize is the tempo on the songs. While it generally works for them, some times I find myself wondering why they don't want me to headbang, as I can easily imagine some of the riffs sped up a bit.
So, in short, very unique, unmatched prog-power, and easily the best output by the Wuthering Heights guys. This will keep you interested from start to finish and make you want more.
The second album from Wuthering Heights marks a large step in their musical career where they have traveled to places few bands have ever dared to go. They’ve created an album that takes the listener on an abstract journey through the past, future surrounded by nature all the way. From the moment the intro ends and “The Nevershining Stones” plays you get enraptured by atmospheric music unheard of on this Earth. It’s melodic beyond comprehension and energizing and uplifting to the point where you actually become the “Lost Wanderer” Wuthering Heights’ first 3 albums seem to speak of.
Describing a band like Wuthering Height’s sound is like trying to explain color to a blind person. The best way is to simply say it’s unique. I can’t for the life of my find an album or another band to cite as sounding similar to Wuthering Heights. Think atmospheric folkish progressive power metal and you’re on the way. It’s not as folky as, oh say, Eluveitie, instead there’s tons of folk inspired melodies and the occasional folk sounding keyboard part. When I say it’s progressive I mean the songs are long as most clock in at about 7 minutes but they’ll go by so fast you’ll wish there was more. That’s just the way Wuthering Heights plays.
This album is also, completely different in sound than their first album. From the larger focus on atmospheric keyboards to the now neoclassical like guitar play and even a new vocalist! The vocals on this album are unique and excellent. Fitting to the music that’s playing and complimented by the guitar playing. It looks like either Erik Ravn decided to brush up his guitar skills or the new guitarist was a smart pick because it’s amazing. They aren’t afraid to show off with jaw-dropping solos like the one in “Dancer in The Light” or the epic 8-minute instrumental “Battle of the Seasons.” Thankfully it all comes in sounding crystal clear; the production is perfect.
I’d like to go on to describe the excellent lyrics this album has. Good lyricists in metal are far and in between but Erik Ravn is one of a kind. The best example would have to be “Lost Realms” with its deep narrative taking you through a journey of nostalgia. “Let me be afraid of the dark” is probably the most impacting line in the album. The lyrics aren’t long, complicated trying too hard fake prose, instead they’re intelligent lines of song. It’s perhaps the timing when they’re sung, you can’t help but feel crushed by emotion. Also, to all you fans of catchy choruses, fear not, you can find them here as well amidst the other passages which you won’t forget any time soon, either.
To you, reader, I highly recommend this album. Whatever your tastes may be you should enjoy this for its incomparable sound. If you need music you haven’t heard before, get a Wuthering Heights record. To Travel For Evermore is important in the Wuthering Heights catalogue as it has their first attempt at an atmospheric sound, which they would later perfect. It’s melodic in a way all its own. If you need a new power/prog/folk album this should make its way to the top of your list.
Folk metal is all about melody. But unfortunately it’s not always all about metal. I should know, I own some of the stuff. It’s not bad at all. But in my book only two bands can do both folk and metal: Elvenking and Wuthering Heights.
If Elvenking is pagan forest folk metal, then Wuthering Heights is the lonely wanderer kind. Elvenking I’ve reviewed elsewhere as underrated full stop. Wuthering Heights is likewise a hundred times the folk and/or power metal band that the majority of clone bands are.
“The Nevershining Stones” has concert favourite written all over it. This one’s in a hurry with riffing that slices its way like a sword through a forest backed up by a flawless old school metal gallop. “Dancer In The Light” threatens to do a slow motion goth metal turn before the lights go up and you get the strangest little melody dancing all over the place. In other words a glimpse of prog, but a chorus (a REAL chorus) all the same.
“Lost Realms” is 8 minutes long and tailor made prog for people who don’t like prog. In fact for people who despise prog. How do they manage to pull this miracle off? Melody and lots of it, and all woven into solos that actually add to the song. Not a note of pointless jamming in sight.
“A Sinner’s Confession” unfolds in 3 parts, and is yet another example of how to pull off prog without anyone noticing. The music is catchy in the same way that a folk song repeats in your head, or a power metal hook that won’t let go. This song somehow manages to do both. And boy is this one angry, bitter and very, very heavy number. ‘See Tomorrow Shine’ is nowhere near as harsh, but every bit as catchy. The power metal element momentarily takes back the speed metal mantle - and the wanderer is back on the run.
‘To Travel For Evermore’ is actually the second album of the wanderer trilogy. The third album is the masterpiece of the three, but the basic fact is that you need all three to get a complete picture of what’s going on here. But this is the release that marks the moment Wuthering Heights really arrived as a force in folk metal.