Overwhelming expanses harboring hallucinatory pulsations of blood, death, and terror enveloped by an awe inspiring sense of majesty — to be a bit colloquial and perhaps cliched, that sounds “metal,” right?
In reality, this article’s opener doubles as a picture of the American West expressed on the new album from the unique heavy metal outfit Wayfarer. Out now on Profound Lore, the record — titled World’s Blood — grips the listener and drags them whether they’re ready or not through a somehow still very much alive version of the American West in which the land is forced to bear witness to the systematic slaughter of entire populations of native peoples. On World’s Blood, decades and centuries of American history are the present and it all crashes down on you as if a mountain itself collapsed.
Vocalist Shane McCarthy and other members of Wayfarer grew up around one of the places all of that history could be considered to have retreated to out in Colorado, which is where the band is still based.
He explains: “We wanted to make an album that sounded like the West and spoke to its history and the element of that it feels like there’s something here — because everything that was built here was taken from somebody else. The land was taken from somebody else through marginalization and genocide, and there is a bit of a haunting presence in certain places. That’s been buried by American history because they like to represent themselves as best as possible, but there was a full blown holocaust in this nation and that’s what led to all the states and the thing we have now. That’s a really powerful thing to know and then exist here on a daily basis and have that in the back of your head — that everything you live is stolen from someone else.”
He and the band take their own unique approach to making the West come alive on World’s Blood. They aren’t trying to write a history book or make a tour guide. What they captured on the record exists outside of something tangible, although it is still tied to us here thanks to the persistence of the land itself.
“World’s Blood doesn’t try to get too overt and overstated and be just some clear telling of a story of a history,” McCarthy explains. “It’s more like a vague hallucination of the whole thing, that there’s this ghost presence here and that it might not be done with, and that’s the picture we wanted to paint.”
To McCarthy, that “ghost presence” persists, but that doesn’t mean it’s actually respected.
He maintains a fairly clear cut take on the trajectory of the nation at large in light of the bloody foundation that it rests upon.
“There’s no way to apologize and make up for what’s been done but at a moral level, much of the nation should be given back, but that’s never going to happen,” he says. “Nothing’s going to change, I don’t think. In releasing this, this wasn’t a big manifesto about trying to make something happen in human rights — it’s just a story of the tragedy of it. I would love to see more positive progress, but we all know that’s not the way this nation moves. It only moves in its own interest.”
As for the band’s own movements carved out in the middle of all of that, McCarthy explains that the band perceives itself as a group founded on the live experience. That perception has an array of ramifications — it’s hardly just empty rhetoric.
To begin with, the writing process for World’s Blood, the vocalist shares, revolved around the members of the band getting together in a shared space and playing and playing until they found an idea they wanted to pursue. In the course of that writing process, the band took their idea of a “live experience” to a logical, all encompassing extreme, playing Western oriented movies — often with the sound turned off — to help them advance on the path they were taking.
When it came time to record the album, the band actually recorded the bulk of the music while playing together at the same time in the same room. (Vocals and some minor effects were added later.)
The idea, McCarthy shares, is that the band “wanted to capture on the record how it is that we play it when we were writing it and how it is that we play it when we play it live, because that’s how it was written and how it’s supposed to be.”
Wayfarer comes across, then, as a group that is founded on the idea of taking the experience of the American West and turning it into a forceful musical experience.
“At the end of the day, the whole album is about the land,” McCarthy explains, “and part of that is its people and what has happened here, but it’s about the land and always has been and always will be.”
Stylistically, they might be lumped in with black metal at times, but they’re really more than that, incorporating other elements like a “Denver Sound” influence into their music. (“Denver Sound” refers to dark folk music developed in the Colorado area.)
The members of the band are not ones to be boxed in, preferring to push the boundaries of their artistic experiences further and further outward. To that end, McCarthy shares that they will likely hold off on developing any new material beyond World’s Blood until they’ve played the album through a cycle of tours. That way, he says, any new material can be approached with a fresh headspace.
For now, then, you can catch the band on the live circuit. They aim to hit the Eastern United States and Europe soon; before that, they’ve got a West U.S. run.
Listen to World’s Blood below.