Posts Tagged ‘Winterfylleth’

Now my previous lists have been specific to genre, but this is my ultimate top 20 of the year. It’ll include some records that you won’t have seen in previous ones as, for example, I only really heard two good power metal records this year, so I can’t really make a list from it. Also, where do you categorise certain bands, like Triptykon, who cover a wide spread of genres? Anyhow, my top favourites of the year are as follows:

20. Killer Be Killed – S/T – A supergroup that combines equal parts of their bands to create awesome

19. Grand Magus – Triumph and Power – Riffs of stone and hooks of great magnitude, the title track alone is one of my favourite songs of the year.

18. Winterfylleth – The Divination of Antiquity – Another record of spellbinding black metal from England’s finest. Windswept and vast

17. Edguy – Space Police – Catchy as hell and stupidly anthemic, Tobias and the squad bring some RAWK to their power metal greatness

16. Electric Wizard – Time to Die – A suffocating, occult riddled drag down doom alley. Evil and heavy as fuck

15. Mastodon – Once More Round the Sun – A big improvement over The Hunter and Mastodon’s prog doom trip extends further

14. Mayhem – Esoteric Warfare – A follow up to ‘Ordo Ad Chao’ was always going to be difficult, but the True Mayhem brought out another stormer

13. At the Gates – At War With Reality – Thank fuck we finally have the follow up to ‘Slaughter of the Soul’. They put all copycats to shame.

12. EyeHateGod – EyeHateGod – NOLA sludge titans send Joey LaCaze off with one of their most superlative records yet. Angry, harsh and utterly devastating

11. Decapitated – Blood Mantra – Poland’s finest sons of death continue their streak of blinding records with yet another punishing exercise in tech death

10. Anaal Nathrakh – Desideratum – Nasty, abrasive and skullfuckingly epic in parts, Anaal do things their way, and better than most

9. Inter Arma – The Cavern – A Spellbinding 45 minute trip through the mind of one of post metal and doom’s brightest sparks. Wonderful

8. Hour of Penance – Regicide – Always brutal and relentless, I’ve grown fonder and fonder of this record the longer the year has gone on. Death to all!

7. Dead Congregation – Promulgation of the Fall – Nasty, lurching death metal chaos, belching death and pestilence to all

6. Whalerider – Thanatos – A surprise late entry, and its been on constant rotation. A stormingly good rock record with doses of psych doom weirdness too

5. Panopticon – Road to the North – Soaring and scorching black metal, vast and hypnotic. Epic black metal is the theme this year, and its great

4. Sabaton – Heroes – I fucking love this band. No one writes more anthemic metal tunes than this. Fantastic record and catchy as hell

3. Mount Salem – Endless – A starkly beautiful trad doom record with perfect vocals and atmosphere. The fact it is third on my list is testament to its quality

2. Behemoth – The Satanist – The rebirth of a legend and a triumphant return. Any other year this would’ve been the best by a country mile

1. Triptykon – Melana Chasmata – Nothing could beat the pure misanthropy, despair and heaviness wrought from Tom G Warrior. A simply monumental release

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I remember the first moment I saw this line up I thought, ‘holy shit, I HAVE to go to that.’ I’d never seen Behemoth until that night, which was an eternal stain on my credentials that I was more than happy to remove. Getting to the ABC early was an excellent call, making sure I got Winterfylleth’s set. It was short but the slowly growing crowd was receptive to their vast, windswept black metal majesty. They are the UK’s equivalent of Emperor or Drudkh, a black metal act with a great understanding of scale and atmosphere.

Grand Magus seemed like the odd ones out on this bill; their raucous heavy metal thunder is much less extreme but nonetheless welcome. With riffs hewn from granite and hooks the size of fjords, the Swedes barrel through some brilliant anthems, including the rousing ‘Triumph and Power’ and the ever singalong-able ‘As the Oar Strikes the Water’. Decapitated, on the other hand, bring all the death metal fury and tech death wizardry you could ever want. It is bludgeoning, relentless and startingly complex. A band that I saw a few years back in a tiny sweatbox venue that seemed totally at home on a bigger stage. My brain physically hurt after their set. That’s a mighty compliment.

Onto the headliners. First of all I can say, NO ONE I have ever seen live brings the feeling of ritual, of atmosphere and fury quite like Behemoth. Well, maybe Watain but it’s very close. The band were astounding live, channelling the full hurricane force of both their death and black metal incarnations, splicing classics like ‘Christians to the Lions’ and the devastating ‘Slaves Shall Serve’ with newer cuts from this year’s masterpiece ‘The Satanist’. Drummer Inferno is one of the most talented I’ve ever seen, and Nergal commands his crowd like a dark priest of Satan. When the gig ends with the band dressed in hoods with horns protruding, the feeling of the blasphemous is complete. Only a slight technical problem with the drums at one point slowed the assault, and this was probably one of the best live performances I’ve borne witness to. Behemoth are true giants of extremity, sacrificing none of their ethos while still putting on a hell of a show.

Winterfylleth came to my attention the first time when ‘Forging the Iron of England’ was featured on a Terrorizer compilation. That’s a way I find out about a lot of bands. Thanks Tez. Anyway, that was a fine slab of heathen black metal, but I did not foresee them becoming probably my favourite black metal band of the past few years. That revelation came to me only a few short hours ago when I put on their second record, ‘The Mercian Sphere’.

This is a record that redeveloped my love of black metal. They are England’s answer to Drudkh; a band for which I also have much love. Winterfylleth are, for want of a better term, ‘heritage black metal’. They are not pagan black metal, because they speak to us on a deeper level than just tales of heathen days past, before Christianity took over etc etc. They are bands of the earth, of the woods and the land. This is primal bleakness, a celebration of the primitive and the ethereal.

Their newest record, ‘The Thredony of Triumph’ is another windswept masterpiece. Winterfylleth are a band that you MUST hear if you are to have any understanding of what black metal can become. This is the evolution of the genre, where plastic Satanism and church burnings are left behind, where artists can take inspiritation from the surroundings they are raised in. In Winterfylleth, Drudkh and others, we have a hope that black metal will continue to challenge, awe and repulse. We have Watain to drag the genre’s roots into the light of day and ensure reverence. We have Winterfylleth to show where it can go

In support of what little local scene there is around my neck of the woods (if I’m wrong, please feel free to contact me, Cumbrian metal bands), I got myself a copy of the new Helvellyn demo, ‘Hordes of White Light’. It’s a four track, black metal demo that has a very British feel to it. British black metal used to be Venom, then Cradle of Filth, but recently we’ve had brilliant additions to the canon from the likes of Winterfylleth, A Forest of Stars and Fen. Helvellyn could be another one to add to this scene, if they follow up on the promise shown here.

The title track starts us off with a very Drudkh style riff, weaving tremelo harmonies layered in thick, icy atmosphere. The drumming isn’t too thin and tinny, like some black metal demos can be, and underpins the riffing with a relentless rhythm. ‘In the Shadows’ then kicks in with a more crust punk style, akin to newer Darkthrone. It’s pretty straight for the jugular style black metal, scaling back atmospherics for a single minded assault. Variety can be important in black metal records; too often bands become stale by the thrid of fourth track because their style doesn’t evolve. Helvellyn don’t have that issue so far, but the acid test is when a full album comes out.

The two part ‘Sacramental Violations’ completes the demo, part one featuring a particularly nice chunky riff around the minute mark that slays. I personally prefer black metal with a bit of heft in the riffs, and that’s the type of riff that I’m looking for. Part two revels in its more moderate pacing and its Celtic Frost grunts at the start. Another plus for me is the vocals, which stay at a lower pitched howl rather than a piercing shriek. It makes them more understandable, and adds a bit of meat to the whole presentation.

Helvellyn is a band to look out for. They’re definitely one of my favourite discoveries this year, and hopefully we’ll get a full length out of them soon. Kvlt. As. Fvck!

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