In Crooked Wonderment’s storytelling prowess shines in gothic folk Burn The Heretic

Words by Captain’s Bar events manager, Say Something Music label owner and promoter Scott Evans

In Crooked Wonderment are a gothic, dramatic alt folk rock band comprised of actor and musicians Conor Price (Vocals & Acoustic) Zach Bethell (Bass & Backing Vox) Amelia Banks (Drums) and Ashley Bernstone (Electric Guitar and Backing Vox). They have been compared to the likes of The Amazing Devil, Robert Hallow and the Holy Men, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Poor Man’s Poison, Palaye Royale and Creeper. I can definitely hear the Nick Cave comparison and I would add The Dear Hunter to that list. 

Up until the point of receiving this track In Crooked Wonderment were unknown to me but I’m always happy to be introduced to something interesting that is going on in Staffordshire and they do not disappoint. 

Their Spotify profile says it best: “With dramatic lyrics that drive forward narrative heavy tracks to the backdrop of aggressive rock and post-punk soundscapes, this gothic circus freak quartet brings the listener into a fantasy world rich in enticing characters and hard hitting tales unseen in the mortal realm. By blending the raw aggression of rock and metal with the theatricalities and storytelling nuance of alt folk together, In Crooked Wonderment has gained the attention and praise of metal and folk fans alike.”  

Gothic folk is not a genre that pops up that often so it’s great to hear this new single Burn The Heretic it’s an incredibly well done single.

Starting off with the sound of crackling fire and what I imagine to be a boozed up mob, a gorgeous sounding acoustic strums us in and we are introduced to the excellent vocals of Conor Price, he has a deep rich well pronounced vocal, something I’m sure his theatre background has helped with. One of the really great things with the song is the subtle way other vocals and instrumentation are introduced into the song, it creeps up on you and every element adds a rich layer of gothic soundscape and before you realise it the song is more in the realms of metal and coming to its climatic ending. 

The production from Jonny Price at Lower Lane Studios is superb, a first class job, giving the song such a high standard of sound. The second verse has a beautiful layer of instrumentation which bleeds into the chorus almost like a funeral march, which may sound depressing but it’s really not. I can’t fault any of the performance, the subtle guitar, the deep tom driven drums, the on point bass and lush vocals. 

Lyrically, It tells the story of an unnamed protagonist who joins a cult and is eventually feared by the others in the collective resulting in his promotion to leader. According to the press release this is part of an overarching story line over the band’s discography. I am always in awe of songwriters that can tell a story in such a way the likes of Johnny Cash, the previously mentioned Nick Cave and more locally Crowspeak.  

I like how Conor Price sums up the band sound and lyrical mission: “Escapism in music is something I’m deeply in love with. In the harsh and unforgiving battleground that is day to day life in an ever-changing world people seek a way to escape and forget the dramas for a while. I seek to offer people the same comfort a novel or a film may give them through music with just as much focus on storytelling as a Martin Scorsese picture”.

Without doubt I will be now exploring the rest of In Crooked Wonderment’s catalogue and look forward to the September EP release. Listen to Burn The Heretic here:

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