My first experience with Northern Ireland’s Waylander was 2008’s *Honour Amongst Chaos*, resulting in an appreciation of the Celtic metal band’s previous works as well. Desire whetted, *Kindred Spirits* shown brightly on 2012, yet also revealed a band staunchly dedicated to quality over quantity. On the one hand, this is admirable, on the other, 4+ years between albums can prove fatal to any outfit in today’s musical climate. There’s a glut, my friends. The sewers are overflowing, and if you don’t stand out – as good as your output may be – you’re likely to be swept under.
To that end, Eriu’s Wheel, arriving 7 years after its previous album, Waylander has a lot to live up to. After the subtle, pastoral introduction “Betwixt Times”, the hard-charging “As Samhain Comes” shows that, despite the extended period of silence, the sextet has lost none of the fire that burned in its past work. “Shortest Day, Longest Night” reminds us that the celebration of Midwinter appears not only in Scandinavian elder culture, but in Europe, and any people whose lives were governed by the seasons. And that’s, really, what *Eriu’s Wheel* is about; not so much a paean to times past, but a rekindling of the embers of old to burning flame once more. And, in that, the album largely succeeds. Moving forward, “The Vernal Dance” invokes the middle of Spring with chant, alive in its bloom, whistle and riff marrying, and birthing a tune that – with different instrumentation – wouldn’t have need far out of place in the 1973 classic film, *The Wicker Man*. “Autumnal Blaze” closes the album, but not the cycle, combining the best of what’s come before, and preparing us to, if we’ve a heart to, lie us down among the rust-and-orange-burned leaves, to die in Winter, and be reborn.
Along with Bhleg’s *Solarmegin* and much of the underrated Peordh, Waylander has crafted a hymn to Nature, in all her faces and forms.