If you’ve been following Noise Vortex for a while you will know that I endorse all kinds of creative takes on established styles. Over the course of this decade, black metal has seen a particular amount of exciting experimentation. Bands like Deafheaven, Lantlôs and Alcest left a mark on the scene by defining the blackgaze sound. On their self-titled debut, american Wishfield draw from these bands as they put their own spin on blackgaze with dream pop vocals and outstanding fretless guitarplay.
With the wave of blackgaze releases that followed Deafheaven’s Sunbather, this combination of genres might not sound very exciting but Wishfield do bring their own merits to the table. Played on fretless guitars, the riffs and melodies on the album flow seamlessly. Like a muscle, the guitars stretch and contract, clench and relax.
Starting off with swirling melodies, album opener Something transitions into an entrancing verse of shoegaze riffs and comforting clean vocals. Bringing back the invigorating opening patterns for the chorus, the texture focussed interplay climaxes with indie rock riffs that fade into the atmospheric Earth, Venus. Sister track Nothing mirrors this with swaying guitars that accelerate into high-velocity melodies. Again the following interlude deconstructs the track to glitching guitars and freeform drumming in the vast Swimming, Dreaming.
Even on the more traditionally blackgaze moments like The Fishbowl, Wishfield establish themselves as capable songwriters. Like a crashing jet plane the guitars swoop down only to rise again. Soaring, the riffs spiral out of control, descending and ascending again and again.
Though the washed-out production somewhat buries the intensity on tracks like The Fishbowl and Isolated People in Isolated Rooms, the fluid guitarplay and sense of weight in the band’s music proves adamantly captivating. Putting aside their qualities, the climax of album closer Isolated People in Isolated Rooms makes for an underwhelming finish as the album fizzles out in an unspectacular atmospheric section.
Regardless, Wishfield’s self-titled debut is a refreshingly short and invigorating album full of blissful melodies and dreamy vocals. Though both tonality and production conflict in places, this is a promising first signal. With their skill in crafting dynamic songs with an impressive sense of weight and motion, Wishfield deliver a strong debut that proves that blackgaze is far from over.