Wykan – Solace – Record Review By Vince Andreasen
Wykan has the perfect EP for anyone who wonders what it would sound like to merge modern black metal with vintage 70’s era psychedelic stoner rock. This Montreal trio occasionally provides blues-infused riffs that remind me of Black Sabbath, especially from the Heaven and Hell era. But, instead of hearing operatic vocals you would normally expect, your ears are eviscerated by shrieking and screaming from black metal patriarchs Matt McGachy (Cryptopsy) and Barrie Butler (Eohum). I pity the studio engineers that have to clean the larynx fragments from the microphones when these guys are done, or perhaps they just throw them away and charge the bands as production cost.
This EP only includes 3 songs, but these songs are epic with a total running time of 25 minutes. Solace revolves around the culture and rituals of the Saami tribes of Scandinavia. Opening track Lahppon Olmmos begins with a shaman chant before transitioning into dark and distorted riffs with a mixture of soaring vocals and growls. The Gathering has a more traditional black metal feel to it. It also begins slowly before hitting you with manic leads and ripping screams. Wykan is the final track that opens with a spoken ceremonial verse, with a bluesier sounding background, before descending into further heavy orientated chaos. There are constant musical shifts with varying tempos and intensity that result in an ambitious and sometimes confusing ride.
These rapid transitions are a testament to the band’s overall talent. Musicianship is solid. Morgan Zwicker provides excellent drumming that isn’t over the top or non-stop blast beats typical of the genre. The drumming blends well with Daniel Paras taking a more jazz/blues approach on bass with an edgy twist. Jeremy Perkins guitar playing solidifies all the intricate style layers Wykan merged throughout this EP.
Jeremy proclaimed they wanted to leverage the feel of psychedelic stoner metal for this release and, for the most part, they succeeded. It is often difficult to be fully engaged with this music due to frequent abrupt changes, but I believe that was Wykan’s intent. This isn’t music to lay back and enjoy. This EP will awaken, provoke, and sometimes disturb you, which is directly in-line with the tribal themes and imagery conveyed in the lyrics. Wykan has taken black metal to a new level by daring to be different. It will be interesting to see how they evolve from here.