Review Summary: "I’m just trying to find some closure”
At the end of “Blight of Imagination”—the 10 minute epic that serves as the climax of New Wilderness
—Ryan Devlin sings, “I still have a chance to make up for lost time
”. There is undeniable poignance in that line. In fact, the lyrics across the album are steeped in poignance—or irony, depending on your point of view—because they largely deal with overcoming one’s struggles while casting a hopeful eye to the future. Considering the drama surrounding the band and the genesis of this album, that dream didn’t play out quite the way anyone hoped it would. But here we are, in May 2020, and Corelia’s controversial and long-awaited debut LP has finally seen the light of day and...damn, just think of what could have been.
Quite frankly, New Wilderness
good. Much better than it has any right to be. The demo-quality production—improved somewhat by a kind soul on reddit who ran it through LANDR’s automatic mastering service—doesn’t do it many favours, but it also doesn’t detract from the vision that the band had for it. New Wilderness
supposedly took three years to write, and it certainly sounds like it. It’s expansive and ambitious and filled with enough intricacy and dynamism that even repeated listens don’t offer any obvious dead spots or skippable tracks while providing plenty of highlights. It’s also mature and assured enough to develop ideas organically to proper conclusions instead of switching gears at random. More than half of the album’s sixteen
tracks pass the five-minute mark, but transition so seamlessly from technical metal sections to gentle clean passages and back again, while subtly mutating and adding new twists to the riffs and melodies at every turn, that their runtime never seems excessive. There is real adventurousness here, and even a sense of humour, like on the Alex Jones clip at the end of “Thoughtcrime” and the retro Moog-sounding keyboard solos such as the one on “Stellar”, but it’s anchored by the palpable sense that the band know where they wants the songs to go, and how to get them there, rather than throwing random riffs at the wall to see what sticks.
largely avoids progressive metalcore clichés and, despite coming close to sounding like BTBAM worship on some of the heavier moments of tracks like “Bastion” and “Blight of Imagination”, there’s enough originality in guitarist Chris Dower and drummer Clayton Pratt’s playing to put a pin in any notion of derivativeness. Dower in particular has a knack for segue-ing from knotty riffs into soaring solos so fluidly and organically that it makes the solos feel like an extension of the riffs themselves. It also helps that Devlin is an undeniably talented vocalist and consistently finds interesting places to go with his melodies—an impressive feat given the sheer length of the album—with a combination of soulful Chris Baretto meets Rody Walker-esque cleans and Tommy Rogers-like harshes. The mixing, or lack thereof, means that the vocals tend to pop up too loudly, and the bass and leads get buried and muddied every so often under the layers of rhythm guitars and synthesizers. The lack of production finish also exposes some of the rough spots in the vocals, like the audible strain to hit some of the high notes on “Self-Destruct” and the song’s rather cheesy choir section sticking out of the mix like a sore thumb. None of this is should be surprising.
But these quibbles aside, New Wilderness
finds Corelia largely fulfilling the promise of their debut EP—in theory if not in practice—and is ample demonstration of what made them one of the most hyped prog bands of the 2010’s. The band repeatedly swing for the fences and still end up with an almost absurdly high batting average. That makes it all the more sad that they crumbled under the weight of expectations and their own ambition. It might be too little too late, but if they still hope to make up for lost time they have to start somewhere, and this might be it.
 I’m not going to go into it here, but if you don't know about the whole saga, definitely
look it up.
 The band has uploaded the LANDR version to SoundCloud so I guess this now the "official" version: https://soundcloud.com/coreliaofficial/sets/new-wilderness