Mekong Delta – Wanderer on the Edge of Time (2010)
The funny thing about time is that, for whatever reason, it progresses in a direction that I perceive as “forwards”. Wanderer on the Edge of Time hearkens back to a period where I was actively following the metal scene, which makes it hard for me to believe it’s been out for 6 years already! Compared to some of the… iffy material Mekong Delta has released at times, this album at least has the advantage of modernity – less expensive digital recording and better knowledge dissemination makes it easier for today’s metal bands to develop their ‘sound’, so they can spend more time on writing good compositions. That’s how it works, right?
Wanderer on the Edge of Time, if nothing else, is certainly a much slicker and better produced album than anything Mekong Delta put out during with their first vocalist (Wolfgang “Keil” Borgmann), and it has the benefit of sounding much fiercer than the band put out with their second vocalist (Doug Walker). At its best, it successfully merges the strong points of both these approaches and therefore represents a modernization of the band’s approach. Traditionalism aside, this is at least a tempting formula, especially since the Keil era of the band is (Music of Erich Zann aside) rife with poor production and mixing.
The end result is nicely dynamic and contains a great deal of musical ideas that have presumably made their way into at least my older compositions, but the songwriting falls short in some important ways. One problem is that there’s too much repetition. Given that the actual songs are quite short, you’d think this wouldn’t be a problem, but it turns out that Wanderer on the Edge of Time is trackinated in such a fashion that a significant amount of its runtime is given over to miniature interludes that, at best, should’ve been incorporated directly into the tracks surrounding them. These often serve as an excuse to recapitulate material, which I’m aware is likely taken from the great book of Western classical tropes. Still, this is a pet peeve of mine even when you take into consideration how much filler this adds to the album. It essentially turns a couple of strong, albeit fairly isolated tracks into one less coherent megasong, and I definitely think Mekong Delta works better in more discrete chunks. On its own, this shouldn’t be as much of a weakness as I’m making it out to be, but since this album succeeds on all its other levels, I can’t help but find it extra problematic.
Henry VIII’s aspirations aside, roses tend to have thorns, music tends to have flaws, and while Wanderer on the Edge of Time‘s artistic choices don’t rob it of its coherence and skill, and furthermore despite everything haven’t ruined it for me, I can’t help but dwell on the negative.
Highlights: “The 5th Element”, “The Apocalypt”, “Intermezzo”