GLORIOUS WOLF – Mysterious Traveler

Glorious Wolf 2023

Mysterious Traveler

How to be belligerently gentle: preying on one’s mind, the Beast of Goirle howls again.

With Ed Unitsky’s anthropomorphic artwork suggesting the increased humanity of Ruud Dielen’s project, a question may arise as to whether this one-man ensemble’s aim is to turn the “Homo homini lupus est” maxim on its snarly head, and indeed, the Dutchman’s third album does exactly that. With a lot of elegance and the use of seemingly incongruous instrumental elements – Mellotron and steel guitar aren’t natural bedfellows but the aural marriage of prog and country is celestial – the magnificent seven pieces of “Mysterious Traveler” take a willing voyager to quite a few unexpected places where wonders await. Here’s an ever-shifting sonic landscape to flabbergast the listener.

The oncoming rapture is barely hinted at on “Repentance” which offers a highly charged six-string offensive before Frank van der Borg’s effects-drenched vocals emerge from Dielen’s weave of vintage keyboards and futuristic synthesizers that’s shot through with sharp riffs and rumbling bass to stage a histrionic, if never artificial, performance and fathom the project’s dynamic scope and its bombastic possibilities. Still, all of this will be contrasted by the steamroller organ passages and slider roll of the cosmic “Slow Down” where Kike Paglia’s drums rage so impressively until Ruud’s transparent strum and restrained piano lead the audience towards utter tranquility, while the acoustically trimmed “The True Story” demonstrates the album’s lyrical underbelly, embroidered with orchestral waves and Celia van Onna’s multitracked voice.

However, there’s mellifluous momentum propelling the wordless “Howling At The Moon” to the finely detailed verge of cinematic hard rock, and triumphant, yet unhurried, twang in the platter’s titular cut that’s given a vibrant tinge of bluegrass – but “Battlefield” has a different, bellicose groove even when ivories paint pseudo-pacifying, fusion-like lines over its menacing, chorale-concealing, gradually tightening filigree. And then, there’s the two-part epic finale “Beautifully Broken” which finds the project’s mastermind and his chanteuse in the grip of a predatory balladry whose enchanting folk motifs are bound to creep up on one’s psyche to solemnly insist this magic voyage must last forever. Here’s a journey worth embarking on.


January 2, 2024

Category(s): Reviews
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