Review Summary: A formulaic, yet ultimately beautiful record
Consistency is a difficult thing to appraise in music. Where some may see a formulaic album as a positive thing, another will see stagnation, predictability and laziness. Many well respected artists have built their careers on a very similar recipe from one album to the next, while other artists struggle and are criticized when they rehash a sound from their past, or show limited variation from cover to cover in a new release. A consistent sound is an extremely fine line to tread, and Midas Fall, for better or worse, choose to walk this line in Wilderness.
The album opens with the absolutely sublime track 'The Unravelling King', which wastes no time establishing the bands sound and immediately presents a snapshot of the rest of the album. Soft guitar and piano melodies weave around the steadily pounding drums, with light electronic flourishes providing the perfect backdrop to Elizabeth Heaton's awe-inspiring vocals, the real driving force behind the music. The elements ebb and flow in typical post-rock fashion, the instruments rising and falling several times, reaching the most subdued point in the song before steadily building behind Heaton's vocals towards the biggest emotional climax of the song.
The above paragraph was a simple description of the opening track, and the same description could be used for the majority of the songs present on the album. It is fairly easy to predict when the music is going to reach a peak or dip down into one of it's more minimal sections, and there is little doubt that this album will not surprise you during it's runtime. Because of this, however, it is extremely easy to become immersed in the album. The sounds that the band produces are absolutely breathtaking, and once the band finds it's stride it is simple to be swept along with it. This makes tiny additions to the formula become stand-out moments, like the distant emotional cries in the closing minute of 'Our World Recedes', the drawn out, subdued middle section of album highlight 'The Moon And The Shine', or the steadily intensifying screams of “run” in the crescendo of the title track.
To put it simply, the album is at it's best when it doesn't try too hard, and unfortunately the vain attempts at varying pace are the only places where the album falls flat on it's face. 'Fight First' is different right from the get-go, and whilst that doesn't disturb the pace too much initially, an absolutely horrific keyboard solo right on the ¾ mark completely destroys any momentum the track had built up, as well as severely damaging the albums ability to immerse the listener. On the other end of the spectrum, 'Your Heart, Your Words, Your Nerves' sets a comfortable medium pace but eschews the typical post-rock formula and doesn't crescendo or decrescendo at all. Though a good idea in theory, and making for a very pretty sounding song, the track simply doesn't go anywhere, which is a disappointment because fleshing out the track would have made it a definite highlight in an already spectacular album.
This is a beautiful slice of post-rock well worth your time. Whilst not offering much in the form of variation, the music still feels purposeful and achieves what it set out to do. Heaton's passionate vocals are stunning and complement the music perfectly, and the few flaws present can easily be passed off as simple inexperience. Hopefully, with a bit of work, this band may be capable of a truly great post-rock record.