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Waylander - Kindred Spirits (Listenable Records)

By: David E. Gehlke

[6.5/10] Pick any Pagan/epic metal band and they all strike you as nice guys (and in some cases, girls), willing to plop down on a hurdy-gurdy while drinking some mead. Heck, some bands devote their entire careers to the booze cause (Korpiklaani), so in essence, nothing should be intimidating and/or scary about a band of this ilk. Unfortunately for Ireland's Waylander, the really ugly vocals of Ciaran O'Hagan makes Kindred Spirits about as appealing as looking up some dude's kilt. Sorry for the un-sexy thought.

The band's sound is as rudimentary as possible, especially in the folk metal sense. Guided by the enjoyable tin whistle of Dave Briggs, Waylander is able to skirt around O'Hagan's too gruff, too feral, and misplaced vocals for only a short time before it becomes too much to bear. Shame, 'cause the romp of "Lamh Dearg" is an agile thrust of extreme Pagan metal, complete with powerful riffs and a fun, loose atmosphere. The sideways riff-action of "Twin Fires of Beltine" are a plus, probably because they recall fellow countrymen Primordial, while "Quest for Immortality" has the type of pull and force that the heavier Eluveitie songs typically benefit from.

Save for the halfway point album divider "Grave of Giants," Kindred Spirits plays it very close to the (dirty) vest. Gimmick-free folk metal is usually sink or swim, but as O'Hagan's unintelligible, grating vocals go, so will Waylander. Quite hard to imagine anyone giving these lads a listen over the much more versatile and enjoyable likes of Tyr, Moonsorrow, and Eluveite.

www.clanwaylander.com

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