Here's a nice review of "Before the Plane..." written by Adrien Begrand.
Album of the Week:
Wild Hunt, Before the Plane of Angles (Kemado)
When Ludicra split up a year ago the metal world lost one of the Bay Area’s most inventive bands, one that might have been rooted in one particular subgenre – in their case, black metal – but in reality displayed an openness to other influences that lent their music a unique quality that stood out far apart from anything else in metal. Such bands are rare, so it was no surprise that the news of Ludicra’s demise was greeted with great disappointment from those who had followed the band over the previous decade. When a defiantly, daringly original band splits, who knows when someone in their local scene pick up where they left off?
Wild Hunt might hail from grittier, blue-collar Oakland instead of Ludicra’s San Francisco, and the their music might differ considerably from each other, but there’s no mistaking both bands are cut from the same cloth. Like Ludicra, and even Norwegian innovators Enslaved, Wild Hunt doesn’t care one iota about genre restrictions. The foursome of guitarists Greg Brace and Drew Cook, bassist West Lenz, and drummer/vocalist Harland Burkhart take bits and pieces from black metal, progressive metal, traditional heavy metal, doom, and even ambient music on their debut album and create something that’s not only unlike anything in American metal right now, but for all its eclecticism is startlingly cohesive.
What’s so remarkable about Before the Plane of Angles is its sense of restraint. The compositions, especially the two 16-minute tracks that bookend the album, “Eidetic Parallax” and “Plane of Angles”, meander, yet it’s never the kind of labyrinthine arrangement that has you wishing you had a riff map to follow along. Instead, the songs flow so gracefully that it’s simply easy to take in, suite-like songs shifting from movement to movement so seemingly naturally that the shifts from style to style hardly feel like a surprise. Granted, the album isn’t without its more immediate moments as well, and two of the middle three tracks on the album showcase Wild Hunt at their most accessible. The opening riff of “Panorama” bears a strong resemblance to the icy guitar sounds of Enslaved’sRuun album before dissolving into an ambient piece reminiscent of Tangerine Dream. “Window to the Nether” shifts from mid-tempo black metal grooves to the muscular American crunch of Mastodon and early Baroness,Burkhart providing haunting chanted vocals, the song becoming more and more blackened the longer it goes on.
Time and again Wild Hunt pulls the rug out from under the listener on this album, yet they do so in a way that’s not jarring, which is where that black metal influence comes in to play. The band’s musical influences are all over the map, but similar to Ludicra, their feet are firmly planted in black metal. That sound is always there in some way, shape, or form, and while the band uses black metal more as a springboard toward exploring new sounds, the black metal element keeps the music grounded. As a result the compositions never once fly off the handle, a great example being “Plane of Angles”, which retains that influence while at the same time taking the music further and further outside the realm of the “cvlt” towards something a lot more progressive and unpredictable. Before the Plane of Angles is a rarity in American metal, a daring, confident debut that instantly creates a one of a kind identity for the band, one that’s set to establish Wild Hunt as the next underground favorite in Bay Area metal. Ludicra’s title is theirs for the taking.