Wayfarer Blow Away Boise With Blistering Black-Metal Fare

Wayfarer at the Shredder on 4.14.22

Make no mistake about it: Denver’s Wayfarer are dead-set on claiming the throne as kings of black metal in the Western U.S. Cofounded in 2011 by guitarist/vocalist Shane McCarthy, bassist/vocalist James Hansen and drummer Isaac Faulk, the group even haughtily describes itself as follows: “Wayfarer is black metal of the American West.”

Reaching such status will be a very tall order, but the quartet (also featuring guitarist Joe Strong-Truscelli) showed promise with a relentlessly crushing concert at the Shredder in Boise on Thursday night. The gig was the penultimate one on their 11-date “Death Rides West” jaunt.

When Wayfarer played the same venue in June 2018, opening for Krallice, they exhibited potential by unleashing a bracing, black-metal wall of sound. But that concert predated the October 2020 release of A Romance With Violence (Profound Lore), their fourth and most accomplished album to date, and one that endowed Wayfarer with even strong material to decimate crowds.

Wayfarer drew mostly heavily from that record on Thursday night, playing four of its six songs (not including the brief intro track). More than a decade into their career, Wayfarer showed a stunning growth in stamina with an exceptionally executed set that enraptured the packed crowd from start to finish.

The Denver demons began by charging full-throttle and full-volume through “The Crimson Rider (Gallows Frontier, Act I)” and “Iron Horse (Gallows Frontier, Act II)” — the crux of A Romance With Violence. Whereas other bands would probably sequence that absorbing, 17-minute saga in the middle or end of their set, Wayfarer audaciously led off with it. Early in the going, the musicians indicated to the crowd that they are an uncompromising force to be reckoned with — not some obsequious schlubs wary to take risks.

Thanks to Wayfarer’s element of surprise, they kept the crowd on its toes, absorbed by the blistering alchemy that wrapped them in a shroud. Like evil incarnate, Wayfarer coaxed the crowd even deeper into the void with two more 10-plus-minute songs: “Masquerade of the Gunslingers” and “Vaudeville.” In a sincere moment devoid of any irony, McCarthy directed the crowd to clap and stomp their feet in sync with the drumstick-tapping that begins the song. It was the night’s most cathartic and amusing abracadabra moment.

Wayfarer closed their set with “Animal Crown,” the thunderous lead track from 2018’s World Blood, which fully animated fans due to their familiarity with the song. The only disappointment with Wayfarer was that, as efficient and fat-free as they performed, their set only lasted 45 minutes. But no one bellyaches after witnessing a stroke of genius, no matter how slight it may be.

The middle act of the night, Boise’s own Ghorot, actually played slightly longer than the headlining Wayfarer. Guitarist/vocalist Chad Remains, bassist/vocalist Carson Russell and drummer/vocalist Brandon Walker threw down with the ease of a veteran band — even though they only formed three and a half years ago.

“Wayfarer has been a band on our radar for quite some time, and we were thrilled to join ’em for a show at the Shredder!” Russell told The Bad Penny. “Ghorot has dark western folk/Americana influences as well, so it seemed like a great combination for a lineup. We’re all traveling down to Fire in the Mountains in Jackson Hole this July and can’t wait to see them perform against the backdrop of the mighty Tetons!”

As a self-described “blackened doom-metal” three-piece, Ghorot smoothly transitioned from one metal subgenre to the next, intermittently called to mind underground favorites ranging from Trouble to Rwake to Big Business. Impressively, Ghorot naturally segued from slow doom dirges to piercing screams to guttural howls to nasty desert rock riffs.

While Ghorot played in support of their July 2021 debut, Loss of Light (Transylvanian Recordings), their retreat into the moodier, introspective song “The Whip” — from their 2019 EP, The Pit: Eternal — proved the most captivating.

“Thursday fucking nights,” Remains wisecracked between songs.

Yes. More of those, please.

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