Branding is everything in modern day society. It’s a cause and effect of nonstop advertising and marketing platforms coupled with a constant, drip-feed of information to pique peoples interest in things with a lasting desire to keep them engaged. That’s why names are just as important – possibly even more important – than the product that is being sold or discussed. Named after the fantasy novel by Patrick Rothfuss, The Wise Man’s Fear burst onto the scene in 2015 with their debut album Castle in the Clouds. The band quickly garnered love from the metal world, not only for their name which drew instant curiousity and listens, but also for their ability to create music that connected the realm of the novels they named themselves after with their own music. Now the band is back with their follow-up album The Lost City and once again, display a level of songwriting that connects the realm of fiction with that of music.
Defining The Wise Man’s Fear as a metal or metalcore band does them a great disservice as they truly have a unique take on the genre and have defined themselves as “fantasycore”. This style of music takes the foundation of metalcore and expands the borders of what typically falls within the genre as The Lost city employs a more unique level of instrumentation with well-thought out composition and some rather unique riffs, which combined make the overall release truly special. The instrumentals on The Lost City contain much more variety and are beautifully utilized to set the tone of each singular song, but also used to retain a level of cohesion and flow throughout the entire album. This approach takes the band to new heights when compared to Castle in the Clouds as tracks like “Pnemua” and “Dreamscape” show off a budding atmosphere with subtle drumming and plucking on the guitar strings which in turn let the music take centerstage. On the flipside, The Wise Man’s Fear retain a level of heaviness that delves into something akin to deathcore, but has a sensibility to it that easily attracts listeners who may not be so fond of that style with prime examples of that being “Blackroot Forest” and “Bloodlust”.
LYRICS: I don’t care what you said Have we lost ourselves, was this personal Liar, liar, I don’t know you anymore Not sure where to turn from here Took my heart and then you disappeared But I only know what I know so I’ll take what’s left and make it
While the instrumentals are on point and one of the true driving factors of The Wise Man’s Fear’s sound, the versatility of both frontman Joseph Sammuel and bassist Tyler Eads is another. Sammuel handles all of the screaming duties and it’s apparent from the start that he has been hard at work with improving his range as the album opens up with “Cataclysm”, a showcase of punishing gutturals and shrieking highs that would make many deathcore vocalists extremely impressed. This range adds an entire new dimension to the bands overall sound as the bands heaviest songs to date intermingle almost flawlessly with the atmospheric, softer songs that are found throughout the whole of The Lost City. Contrasting the brooding growls and screams is the balanced singing that Tyler Eads adds as his choruses soar and are nothing short of infectious, making it nearly impossible to sing along.
Whether it’s the overall variety in songs, the creative orchestral elements that overlay breakdowns or the blistering riffs and infectious choruses, there is plenty to love about the album. These strengths help The Lost City shine vividly and keeps it from falling into a state of repetitiveness or staleness. This results in what is purely a testament to the bands strong growth and development since their debut as the eleven tracks that make up the album are kicked into overdrive. Couple that in with the moments of ambiance, extremely contrasted but very fitting vocal styles and out of the box songwriting capabilities that The Wise Man’s Fear have come to be known for, and you have an album that easily stands alongside some of the best in the genre.