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Winterfylleth: (UK) The Ghost of Heritage
Label: Profound Lore, 2008
My appreciation of English black metal has never been very high - of course Caina, Lyrinx and to an extent Wodensthrone have come along and changed that and now we can safely add Winterfylleth. Formed from members of the aforementioned Northern clan Wodensthrone and doom bludgeoners Atavist, Winterfylleth's own brand of black metal is forged from components including the early styles of Agalloch, Ulver and Skyforger and blended with the black metal of Ukrainian hordes Hate Forest and Drudkh. The song writing is a real forte, most notably the sixth magnificent track, complete with resplendent guitar hook - suitably entitled Defending the Realm. The percussive element at times chimes like a blacksmith's hammer and Anglo-Saxon village life springs to life and the smell of hot metal on stone steams through the speakers along with that of horse and hay. The mood is one of angry pride and lament at times lost to the industrialised, globalised Mac-world we live in now. After a rawer and promising demo, which I confess to only having tracked down after this release, and this highly accomplished debut full-length, Winterfylleth must concentrate hard on becoming the pride of English black metal and one of the scene's leaders - a feat which they are more than capable of fulfilling. A little more work on making inspired songs and Albion will have its leaders.
UK based band Winterfylleth's debut release, 'The Ghost of Heritage', is an intriguing piece of pagan black metal, which merges coarse, up-tempo punk with long drawn out swathes of melancholy, Burzumesque guitars. This is mixed with rumbling, ominous black metal with powerful, martial drums in the vein of Ukrainin BM band Hate Forest and bleak, folky rythms complete with sad, semi-acoustic finger picking and raw, lamenting growls a la fellow Ukranians Drudkh.
Elsewhere there are traces of Ireland's Primordial, with celtic melodies intertwining with fuzzy walls of sound to leave an impression that is at once both sorrowful and uplifting. Dissonant passages with a hint of Xasthur are also present, as are sections reminiscient of Darkthrone in their more urgent and abrasive moments. All these elements, along with soaring nordic vocals and despondent spoken word sections, come together to form a cohesive whole.
What stands out most however are the overt simiarities to Hate Forest and Drudkh, and though the songs here are executed extremely well, the band are perhaps guilty of staying a little too close to their influences for their own good, although this is admittedly no great crime. The album is themed around old English history, specifically Anglo-Saxon history, (as the song titles demonstrate, see below) and their incorporation of celtic and Eastern European folk themes is perhaps a little at odds with this patriotic stance, although none of this stops the album from being a wholly engaging listen.
In summary then 'The Ghost of Heritage' is a great album and a must for pagan metal fans, and it will be interesting to see what the band can come up with with should they opt to stray a little further from their influences.
1. Mam Tor (The Shivering Mountain) 06:14
2. The March to Maldon 03:46
3. Brithnoth: the Battle of Maldon (991 AD) 07:38
4. Forging the Iron of England 05:12
5. The Ghost of Heritage 05:27
6. Defending the Realm 05:21
7. Guardian of the Herd 04:49
8. Casting the Runes 05:23
9. An Englishman's Verse 05:04
Total playing time 48:54
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Man Tor (The Shivering Mountain)
2 March to Maldon
3 Brithnoth: The Battle of Maldon (991 Ad)
4 Forging the Iron of England
5 Ghost of Heritage
6 Defending the Realm
7 Guardian of the Herd
8 Casting the Runes
9 Englishman's Verse