The miracle is how well Olson’s music evokes a weathered, timeless restlessness in a style that is fresh and only marginally related to other metal styles it gets lumped in with.
While Herds succeeded via a crude urgency, Wanderer is more crisply produced without robbing the songs of their visceral urgency. The new version of “Weary Travelers Rest” puts Olson’s rich guitar work into sharper focus, and even though “Tectonic Shifts” is less menacing in this new light, it still lumbers with the glacial majesty of latter-day Earth, but with more melodic spark.
Of the new tunes, “Vanguard Battle Hymn” is instantly memorable, its vaguely Eastern flavor contrasting with Olson’s haunted-American vocals, and distinguished bass work by Matt Shively unlike any previous Tundras studio work. As always, it’s Olson’s guitar that sets these tunes apart, though. The world-weary loneliness of Neil Young combined with the aggression of Tony Iommi make for a rhythm/lead hybrid that is at once intimate and epic. Olson has one of the grandest imaginations in all of modern guitardom, and these songs will sweep you up in it.