Founded in 2004, this Utah-based Black Metal outfit have undergone a change of line-up since their debut album ‘Four Swords Against the Pious’. Leaving the band were guitarists Helgrim and Thorolf to pursue opportunities with other bands, with R. Sodomizer stepping into the fold to take over axe duties.
The release of Winterlore’s self-titled second album retains the characteristics of their previous effort. It’s a no-frills, mid-tempo, oldschool Norwegian style of Black Metal featuring ferocious, grim vocals and lead guitar passages heavily influenced by melodies best associated with Northern European Extreme Metal bands. Yet their sound is by no means formulaic, as there are some interesting elements within their material that have the ability to pleasantly surprise.
Most songs are musically well-crafted and structured, with lots of progressive musical phrases to keep things interesting. The riffs themselves are fairly melodic, which I prefer over the basic scratchy, trilling chords of many of the original generation of Black Metal guitarists. The riffs transition and develop through each song too, whilst the bass tones hum and rumble beneath them.
The biggest surprise for me is the inclusion of druid-like harmonic vocal passages that add to the dark, ominous atmospherics at various points within second track ’Spires of Ascension’. I really enjoy these moments as they’re not overused but feature enough to remain a memorable addition to the composition.
Another addition, though I’m undecided on whether they actually compliment the instrumentation or not, are the occasional flute motifs appearing within ‘Marching Hordes on Warpaths Old’. They’re not completely out of place, they just seem a little distracting.
Rhythmically, expect some intricate time-signature changes and well-placed tempo shifts. The performance is tight, the timing spot-on and plays alongside the accompanying instruments comfortably. The only let-down where drums are concerned isn’t even performance-related, it’s the recording/mix of the kit. Unfortunately the kick drum is incredibly weak – I’m unsure whether this is simply because of poor positioning of the kick’s mic or a poor mix-down, however it has a detrimental effect on the final master. It’s a shame really, as the band are technically proficient and I feel this album is really missing a vital ingredient without the presence of strong syncopated kicks and blast beats.
‘Spires of Ascension’
‘Marching Hordes of Boreal Suspension’
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