Review: Wildways – 'Into The Wild'

In the immortal words of Monty Python “…and now for something completely different”. Wildways is my first ever review of a Russian band, it is definitely not what I was expecting.

Before I accepted this album to review, I watched the video above, and maybe I was swayed by things other than the music. I was intrigued enough by the mix, but what I did not expect, based on that song, was how brilliant this album was going to be. I was in the expectation of a watered down Limp Bizkit. It just goes to show, you should never judge a band on one song… and band, PR, and management need to think long and hard before making a decision on a first release.

To say that one song (or even the ‘metalcore’ genre tag) is ‘Wildways’ is so far off, it is like saying that the Ian Gillan-led Black Sabbath was the best the band could ever do. It actually feels like an insult. You want a comment that sums up this album? Well, here you go… This is the album Linkin Park would make today if they still had the integrity, creativity, and balls that they brought to the music business when they first hit the scene.

The album opens with “Skins”, an opening that will take you back to “Hybrid Theory”, before blasting into some raucous guitar and rapping, and settling into a heavily driven keyboard-backed tune with some crystal clear vocals. If you are not tapping your toes to this, check your pulse… you may be dead!

“D.O.I.T” starts like a 90’s Nintendo soundtrack, filters to the rapping, lets you have some serious screaming, and then throw in some Marilyn Manson… and we are only 30 seconds in. These songs stick to no formula. Wildways flit from melodic, soaring, and angelic vocals, to über-catchy sons-of-bitches. I could probably fill a review for every song, there is so much stuffed in there…. it is a bit like a stuff crust pizza… I mean, who ever came up with that? Who was thinking we need more cheese but there is no room? This song is a belter, and with the screaming of the song title it will make a fantastic live number.

“Princess” reverts to slowing things down. Simplistic keyboards, echoey vocals, and full of atmosphere. We start to bring forth the profanities, and I have a little chuckle to myself. It isn’t just me who decides to learn swear words first and foremost before attempting another language. The song is probably one of the most accessible and straightforward. I would challenge any Linkin Park fan to listen to it and not enjoy it.

With “Don’t Give Up Your Guns” I wondered if this was aimed at the old enemy in the West. This song is a full on battering ram. It has touches of “Dead By April”, and takes all the brutality and beauty and melds it together in a package that makes it one of the strongest tracks on the album…. and what is that on there? some Russian rapping? Well, I did say it was different.

“Illusions & Mirrors” continues the ferocious speed and catchy built-up vocals. “Wings” sees us halfway through the album and slows everything right down. It is as if they knew we needed a break. At the first listen of this album, my head was buzzing from wondering what the hell had just hit me. It is perfectly timed, and gives you a chance to focus on Toli’s voice. In this song, you have the gentle side, but you can hear the power just ticking behind those lulled lyrics. It is like a Harley Davidson just purring before you open it up.

“Not Alone” starts very similarly, but you just know you are not going to get two quiet songs in a row, and yes, it does kick off in style. It builds and holds onto the haunting vocals, but for me, the rest of Wildways come to the fore on this track. The drumming is furious, and the guitar work outstanding.

“3 Seconds To Go” and “What You Feel” will blast your heart out of your chest, burst your eardrums, and leave your broken and busted corpse on the floor still dancing, long after you are dead. Now we reach the first single and the aforementioned video” Faka Faka Yeah” and yeah, it is all over the place, from Coolio to Rammstein, and all stops in between. I may have given it a bit of stick earlier, purely for the reason I based the whole album on it. I will be honest, it was my least liked track on the album, but after a few listens, it has lodged itself in my brain, and I find myself shouting “Faka Faka Yeah” at the most inopportune moments (sorry, vicar).

“Slow Motion” starts like a million songs on a chill out album, but that is left behind in seconds. I had a vision of this track finding its way on to one of those albums by accident. I can just imagine a room of people lazing out on couches trying to calm down and gather their thoughts, and getting hit with the screaming… it could literally kill a good dozen people in one fell swoop (now who would not pay good money for that?)!

We finish with “Sirens”. It is a perfect goodbye, or even a hello, for anyone who has not heard Wildways previously. It holds all of their quirks, tempo changes, and mixture of genres. A track that tells the story of a band’s sound in three and a half minutes.

This album blew me away. I had no great expectations for it, and for that I apologise, guys. This is a work of art, and a huge shift in my personal music conception. I do like bands on the edge of things, and Wildways are pushing the envelope, and are so far over the edge, they are hanging on by just their toenails.

Review: Ritchie Birnie

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