Review / North Star The Wanderer – Universal Trajectory

Boston metal outfit North Star the Wanderer evince grand visions in line with the title of their new EP, Universal Trajectory. Across a pair of tracks and 15 minutes, the quartet work through elements of sludge, doom, NWOBHM, stoner, prog, and psych metal while throwing in some thrasher elements along the way. The ambition is impressive, showing a lot of drive and opening a big-time toolkit along the way.

The opening track, ‘Sad Truth’, makes up most of the EP and covers a lot of ground and showcases an enterprising spirit. North Star the Wanderer certainly isn’t afraid to really go for it. Right off the hop, a driving Remission/Leviathan-era Mastodon sound takes the lead, and acts as a dominant thread for the better part of the song, covering just under 4 minutes. The clear influence weighs a little heavily, most notably by the vocals, and leaves a sense that—while exerting some serious heft—maybe the record is headed towards Mastodon worship. The design of the track sets the listener up for a drop into a driving storm of sludge before changing gears from a trilling ‘March of the Fire Ants’-esque riff and into some brief NWOBHM harmonization before slowing the whole train down and channeling Neurosis’ density through a pummelling drum performance while hollowing out the melody until the drums fade out, leaving the bass and guitar to play back and forth for another minute or so before it all cuts out.

As mentioned, a LOT going on in just the opening track, and North Star the Wanderer don’t let up on the second track, ‘Silverwing’. They open up things with some very space/psych sounds before easing into some thrashy riffing. The inner Mastodon emerges again briefly before really sitting into some space/psych/prog elements and mining them until summoning up and closing out with some serious thrash sensibilities. Despite being about 2.5 minutes shorter than ‘Sad Truth’, ‘Silverwing’ covers just as many bases.

With their debut EP North Star the Wanderer really go for broke and the energy put forth is clear. The EP isn’t without its kinks, however. At times, an energy of uncertainty hangs over the songs, as though there was a focus on having more moving parts in general rather than more parts moving in unison. All things considered, not a bad problem to have. Yes, there are some clear homages and, at times, the band’s own identity feels hushed, but there are more times where they are going balls to the wall, and the latter bodes well for a band developing a strong, dynamic sound and being unafraid to just giver. All in all, Universal Trajectory is absolutely worth checking out.

Universal Trajectory is out now and can be ordered here.

Words: Tristan McCallum

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