Last week, this critic introduced the world to Metal Blade Records’ latest signees Native Construct and noted that the band’s album Quiet World proved in the end to be one of this year’s most unexpected surprises. Now another band has come along in the form of The Wild Beyond and added its self-titled debut to that list, too. The album, released via the independent label Big Round Music, LLC, boasts a sound that by itself makes the album an easy candidate for a spot on this critic’s list of the year’s top new independent releases. It is made up of only five tracks. And at a total run time of forty-five minutes, it doesn’t seem like that long of a record. The reality is that what it lacks in time it more than makes up for in substance. The band proves this with the album’s opener ‘Fire’s Body.’ This eight-minute-plus composition conjures thoughts of Between The Buried and Me thanks to its musical side. It’s only the beginning of what makes this song so interesting. The remainder of what makes this song so interesting will be discussed at more length later. That is because there is that much to say of this opus. The album’s second song, ‘Just One Drop’ adds even more substance to The Wild Beyond because it goes in a completely different direction than that of ‘Fire’s Body.’ It exhibits something of a classic rock influence slightly akin to Deep Purple that is certain to keep listeners’ ears both with its sound and its placement within the context of the album’s body. The album’s closer, ironically titled ‘Opening’ is the album’s best example of how its substance makes up for its overall run time. It is the album’s longest work, clocking in at more than twenty minutes. There are no lyrics to speak of through the entire work. Again, it is not for those with a short attention span. For those that are more open to such a work, it is a song that will undoubtedly impress. Together with ‘Fire’s Body’ and ‘Just One Drop’ all three songs serve collectively show why The Wild Beyond goes beyond anything else out there today, making it at the very least one of the year’s best new independent releases. That is not to take away from the album’s other two songs, ‘Reflex Driver’ and ‘Wake Up’. They add their own interest to The Wild Beyond, too. All things considered, The Wild Beyond proves without a doubt that regardless of whether or not it gets the attention it deserves from the mainstream radio realm, it is still an album that anyone looking for real rock with real substance should hear at least once.
The Wild Beyond is a rather aptly titled album even being named after the band that crafted it. That is because it proves over the course of its five tracks and forty-five minutes that it is a work that goes well beyond anything out there today within the realms of rock and metal. This applies both in the mainstream radio realm and that of the underground. Its run time is actually relatively average when compared to other rock and metal albums out there. Yet a full listen to the album from start to finish reveals that run time to be irrelevant. That is because of the depth and substance presented in each of the album’s songs. That is proven right off the top in the album’s opener ‘Fire’s Body.’ This eight-plus minute composition conjures instant thoughts of Between The Buried and Me and Trioscapes if only for its musical side. Its hybrid rock and jazz-fusion sound alone makes it worth the listen. Front man Max Hodes’ vocal style makes the song all the more interesting as he sounds eerily like Jane’s Addiction front man Perry Farrell in the case of this song. Speaking of Hodes, his somewhat cryptic lyrics alone make for even more interest in this case. He sings here, “It’s the hardest way I know/You know I don’t know how/Well it’s not in the knowing/Not knowing it’s not nothing/No, knowing that the mind knows no control/It’s not dressing for success/It’s not striving to be the best/It’s underneath/It’s overhead/The massive glowing if/And now you stand before/The altar of the closing door/Burn it down/Burn yourself away.” The song’s lead verse is just as cryptic. Both verses together are certain to generate their own share of discussion among listeners. Together with its completely creative and original musical side, the song in whole proves to be an excellent first impression from the band and in turn an equally smart addition to the band’s debut album.
‘Fire’s Body’ shows with its mix of deeply creative and original music, and equally thought-provoking lyrics to be a solid first impression for The Wild Beyond. It shows just as much to be a smart addition to the band’s debut album. This is even with its eight-minute plus run time. Just as welcome to The Wild Beyond is the album’s second track, ‘Just One Drop.’ Unlike the album’s opener, this song takes listeners in a completely different direction. It boasts more of a classic rock influence, exhibiting hints of Deep Purple, Rush and other equally renowned veteran acts. Hode’s vocals are just as noteworthy as the song’s musical side here, too. That is because Hodes has changed gears in this piece. Whereas he sounded more like Perry Farrell in ‘Fire’s Body,’ he sounds more like the great operatic rock vocalists of days gone by in this piece. It is a true exhibition of his vocal talents and range. The song’s lyrical side is again just as interesting with Hodes singing, “Finally/I can see the light/Very strong and bright/It’s mother nature/I see who I really am/Who we really are/It’s all so simple.” It comes across as a somewhat introspective statement. Yet set against the song’s musical side, this verse—which opens and closes the song—presents the image of someone that is seeing certain aspects of life with a new clarity and happiness. Those positive vibes show exactly why ‘Just One Drop’ was chosen to be part of The Wild Beyond. The talent put on display by Hodes’ fellow musicians throughout the rest of the song’s full-on instrumental sections proves that even more. Being chosen as part of the album, it makes The Wild Beyond that much more enjoyable and shows just as much that this record definitely lives up to its name.
‘Fire’s Body’ and ‘Just One Drop’ are both key examples of the breadth of talent and creativity displayed by The Wild Beyond on its debut self-titled album. The two songs each exhibit a sound completely opposite of the other that while they show obvious influences from other acts still maintain the band’s own identity at the same time. There is no denying that each song does its own part to exhibit just why audiences should hear The Wild Beyond. As integral as they are to the whole of the album the album’s ironically titled closer ‘Opening’ is the strongest example of what makes this record worth the listen by any true rock and metal fan. ‘Opening’ is not a song for anyone with a short attention span. It comes in at just over twenty-three minutes long. And there are no lyrics to speak of. The extent of the lyrics (if one even wants to call them lyrics) is chanting set against the song’s growing musical storm. The term “storm” is used because as the song progresses, it reaches a point that some might call little more than one massive cacophony. But a deeper listen reveals something much deeper. Drummer Charles Goold’s time keeping through it all is rock solid. Hodes’ work on guitar and Mark Atkins’ work on bass throughout the song add even more depth. It is a depth that can only be appreciated when one comes into the song with a clear and fully open mind. That is especially thanks to Hodes’ own work manning the broads on this song. Hodes balanced each piece of the whole with the utmost care so as to get the fullest possible effect. It paid off quite well, too as audiences will hear for themselves when they pick up The Wild Beyond. In hearing it for themselves, such listeners will agree that there is no way this album could have been complete without the song. For that matter it couldn’t have been completed without the other songs noted here or the remaining pair not mentioned. Whether for that pair of songs or for the trio noted here, audiences that give The Wild Beyond the chance will agree that the album in whole is one of the most surprising records that the rock and metal communities have seen so far this year.
The Wild Beyond is available now on CD and vinyl. More information on the album, the band’s live schedule and all of the band’s latest tour dates is available online now at: