The amount of metal coming out of Africa is minimal at best. The majority of African metal either comes from the northern countries (Algeria, Egypt, Libya) or South Africa. Wildernessking is from South Africa and by all intents and purposes fits within a very large family of atmospheric black metal with varying relations to post rock. The band’s debut album The Writing of Gods In the Sand impressed and surprised a handful of blogs and critics. Despite African metal being an easy prompt for review, Wildernessking survives on its own merit with their 2014 EP The Devil Within proving to be of similar caliber.
Post rock influenced black metal can be difficult at times due to its tendency to embrace familar tropes. Twinkling guitars, blurred crescendos, and a general sense of fragile wonder usually mark songs which can range from the decent to downright mundane. The Devil Within circumvents post rock’s traps by placing the emphasis on the voice. K, The lead singer and bassist, never pulls back on the black metal rasp which is the hallmark of Wildernessking’s sound. Songs like “Lurker” lean towards second wave tendencies which retain the abyssal hate heard in bands like Emperor. It is these times which allow The Devil Within, as well as Wildernessking, to shine above other bands.
The Devil Within was self released in January but is now seeing distribution with Grimoire Cassette Cvlture. The cassette’s cover comes with alternative album art just as striking as the original. Perhaps this will be the chance for Wildernessking to rise above the rest. While the proliferation of African metal is interesting but The Devil Within stands alone as a fantastic EP hinged on the values of quality and craft.