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Not the breakthrough we've been waiting for - 60%

autothrall, April 27th, 2010

Cryptic Wintermoon have been around for years, one of the more melodic black metal bands to emerge from Germany in the 20th century, and Fear is their fourth full-length, independently released by the band themselves. Based largely on a World War I concept, the album has a very simplistic style which is different than many of the band's peers. The focus here is on creating a catchy vibe with every punchy note, and the band makes use of anything from acoustics to electronics to get their point across. Where it works, the album comes across as mildly entertaining. Unfortunately, some of the tracks went in one ear and out the other even after a few listens.

"Pride of Australia" is a slow, bombastic track with a catchy interplay between Ronny Dörfler's harsh vocals and the plodding guitar rhythms. Some thundering sound effects strike at precisely the right time in the song, and it's fairly powerful. Other memorable numbers include "Hellstorm Infantry", the snarling "Tales from the Trenches" and the black arousal of "The End". But there are some like "Last Letter" which seem to fall apart with a sloppy feel to the rhythms. All in all, I like the concept and a few of the songs had a dark glory to them worthy of the subject, but the album is simply not consistent throughout. I did enjoy it more than the band's past few releases, but there are just too many more impressive black metal albums out lately for this to have an impact.

Highlights: Pride of Australia, Hellstorm Infantry, Tales from the Trenches