The Old Ways

Yonder Realm

My heart leapt for joy when I found out there is a very traditional Folk […]
By Matt "Wolverine" Johnson
April 29, 2015
Yonder Realm - The Old Ways album cover

My heart leapt for joy when I found out there is a very traditional Folk Metal band from North America! Specifically, YONDER REALM from North Babylon, New York. This band has all of the elements of any number of similar bands from Europe, but with a hell of a lot more gusto, such as is heard in their February 2015 release, "The Old Ways." What a spectacular breakthrough album this is!

In the past while talking with people about the complete dominance of European Folk Metal compared to that in America, the only band that usually came up in conversation was ALLEGAEON, although I'd consider them more on the side of the genre fused with Blackened elements. It is immensely refreshing to see that YONDER REALM can hold a candle and stand with the greats of that style. For people who like ELUVEITIE and ENSIFERUM it is easy to believe that "The Old Ways" is an album that will appeal to those who have such tastes, including myself.

There can be no doubt as to the competency in songwriting and instrumental skills possessed by the members of YONDER REALM. "Sacrifice to the Old Stone Gods" opens up the album on a highly melodic note with synthesized versions of folk instruments over a slow rhythm, progressing into... well... more of a Progressive Metal song which made me smile with great pleasure at the well-blended contrast. "Sea of Cosmos" and "Crows" were fairly straightforward in terms of the approach to the music, demonstrating the band's prowess and heaviness with more progressive riffs and killer lead guitar tracks.

The album title track "The Old Ways" starts off about as Folky as you can ask for with the slow strum and hum of the hurdy gurdy and goes into a hard-hitting riff that carries through the rest of the song. "The Frugivores" (which is a name that for some reason made me think of trolls or Fraggle Rock) is a lot more on the Viking Metal scale and if you need double bass pedals drumming, then they've got your fix.

"Enter the Grove" is a haunting and mysterious interlude bearing notes of a harpsichord, piano, harp, and an ominous bell tolling in the background. "Under the Rising Moon" is a track more inline with a stereotypical Metal sound, if not itself a little on the Viking side. "The Pillars of Creation" gives me the sense that this is the theme song to the Earth as it formed into the green planet we are familiar with. This is one of the longer tracks on the album and it is wonderfully enchanting with stringed instruments laid over the guitars and the story that is told through the lyrics.

Another one of the longer tracks is "A Devil's Unweaving." This song has a peculiar blend of styles, opening up with a Spanish guitar, going straight into full-blown Metal, then combining a djent breakdown with violins playing an almost Arabic harmony, then the main riff playing with the angelic sounds of a harp. I almost could not keep up! The album closes out with "The Moonbeam Road" and is the longest track on the album. It is distinctly slower and more epic than the general sound of the rest of the album, utilizing a rare bit of clean vocals en choir.

Speaking of vocals, Jesse McGunnigle absolutely destroys on the harshes. They compliment the ferocity of the music and I really felt that they added a dark presence though not blurring the uplifting sound that I noticed over the entirety of the album.

Having shared the stage with many of the greats in Folk Metal such as KORPIKLAANI, ALESTORM, TURISAS, and TYR, the band's reputation is very well-deserving. They are accomplished musicians and I look forward to hearing them in the future. YONDER REALM are a machine and a force to be reckoned with!

9 / 10

Almost Perfect

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"The Old Ways" Track-listing:

1. Sacrifice to the Old Stone Gods
2. Sea of Cosmos
3. Crows
4. The Old Ways
5. The Frugivores
6. Enter the Grove
7. Under the Rising Moon
8. The Pillars of Creation
9. A Devil's Unweaving
10. The Moonbeam Road

Yonder Realm Lineup:

Jesse McGunnigle - Vocals, Guitar
Jorge Dominguez - Lead Guitar
Dana Lengel - Keyboards, Violin
Eddie Carrella - Bass
Johnny Gierak - Drums

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