Wasted Land – Wasted Land
Reviewed by Evan Barnes
There is a dearth of metal in the middle east. Certainly Israel has its fair share of bands, and a couple bands here or there spring up occasionally in other countries, but for the most part, the metal scene doesn’t really exist. That is why when a band pops up from that region and actually has non-crappy music (I’m looking directly at you, Angband), I get excited. When I looked over the promo list and saw a band called Wasted Land, I grew curious. A folky melodic death metal band from Saudi Arabia? I decided to give them a shot, and I’m glad I did.
Melodic death metal with folk influences has been nearly done to death by all the bands that keep popping up, piggybacking off one another. Therefore, it’s obviously hard to bring anything new to the table in this style. And with shades of Ensiferum, Amon Amarth, and Hammer Horde in their sound, Wasted Land certainly plays it safe. This would only be a problem, however, if they were clearly subpar, and that is far from the case. Wasted Land doesn’t waste its time with an intro track, opting instead to hit the listener with crunching riffs right out of the gate with “Into Chaos I Lost”. The riffs are very melodic, and indeed would not be out of place on most power metal albums. Coupled with solid lead guitar work interspersed with a strong rhythm section, and you’ve got yourself a very good instrumental foundation. The bass is pretty much unheard throughout this album, but the drummer makes his presence well-known with some killer fills on occasion.
Wasted Land uses the second track as an opportunity to display their chops. “Folk Night” is an instrumental, and it is a good one. It reminds me a little of “The Falcon’s Flight” by Slechtvalk and “Metsakukkia” by Immortal Souls. The following track, “Bells Of The Falling Castle”, almost has a little bit of Falconer going on in the guitar department at times. Vocalist Emad Mujalled uses both high and low growls, and while the lows are a little iffy at times, the high vocals are quite good. There are times throughout the album where thrash-like shouts are used as well, and to great effect. And while Wasted Land doesn’t offer anything new to metal, it certainly doesn’t lack variety. The songs, for the most part, are not straight-forward verse-chorus structured, and toward the latter half of the album we are treated to some nice acoustic sections. There is a notable lack of a ballad, which I admit I would have liked to have seen for curiosity’s sake (I consider crafting a good ballad a rare skill). However, Wasted Land throws in another instrumental in the second half of the album, and “Anthem Of Warriors” is just as good, if not better, than “Folk Night”. The riffs have a very Ensiferum-like gallop to them, and the use of acoustic sections is wonderful.
The last three tracks are solid enough, if not particularly noteworthy, and the album closes with a nearly four-minute-long acoustic outro: a nice mellow end to a high-energy release. Wasted Land provides a ray of hope for a potentially growing metal scene in a region dominated by strict religious laws and customs not friendly to metal, or even to music in general, and that is encouraging to see. Fans of Ensiferum and folk or melodic death metal in general are certain to get a similar level of enjoyment out of this release.
3.5 // 5