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Permafrost reaches south of the border. - 80%

hells_unicorn, December 4th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2016, Digital, Independent

The Viking trope seems to have become a universal expression in metal circles of late, though not without some degree of historical precedent for those schooled in the subject. For the uninitiated into the pre-Columbus world of Viking excursions across the Atlantic, one need only make the small leap from Manilla Road's 2008 fictional concept album Voyager or Ensiferum's lyrical summation of the Norwegians' Vinland colony on "Guardians Of Fate" to a history book to uncover the treasure trove of data pointing to Norwegian and Danish incursions into North and even parts of Central and South America. As such, it isn't all that much of a stretch to consider that a Mexican melodic death meets power metal upstart such as Cancún's Eterknight might consider the subject as a fetching one, along with the characteristic style that much of Europe has come to associate with its respective sub-genre.

In much the same manner that the Spanish-based Folk outfit with melodeath trimmings Northland did a little under a decade prior, Eterknight's independently conceived EP Winter's Calling borrows heavily from the Ensiferum stylistic paradigm of the pre-2005 mold, save for some symphonic power metal trappings that are not quite as bombastic yet bring it closer to the dense textural landscapes of Germany's Equilibrium. It is an overall typical display of orchestral consonance laced with heroic themes and an occasional frosty shriek, yet possesses a sort of working class ruggedness to it that is reminiscent of the good old days of Ensfierum's eponymous debut when the style and the band associated with it had yet to become a household name. It's a bit short on technical chops when situated next to Jari Mäenpää's sweep-happy shredding and not quite as refined, but it definitely gets the job done.

Coming on the heels of a serene and fleeting orchestrated instrumental prelude simply dubbed "Intro", the full length chapters of this musical short story come galloping forth with all caution thrown to the proverbial wind. The quick-paced, almost thrashing feel of "Warheart" has sort of a "Hero In A Dream" type of presentation to it, albeit with a bit more of a power metal-tinged vocal performance that has a bit more of a mainline Swedish sound to it (think bands like Steel Attack and Hammerfall). By contrast, the more driving speeder "Winter's Heeding" has much more of an Iron character to it, perhaps drawing the greatest comparison to the super-melodic anthem "Sword Chant", but minus the Halford-inspired shrieks and a subtler folksy tinge to the instrumentation. They do a fair share of mixing things up in terms of sectional contrast and riff development, but the collective character of each song is pretty predictable.

Having been toiling in the underground for a good seven years now, it would seem that label interest would have found its way to Eterknight's doorstep, but as of yet they've remained an independent recording project. Be this as it may, considering that they boast no live drummer and likely rely upon their own resources to harness their craft via recorded media, this is an impressive offering that boasts a good deal of future potential. It is unclear at this point whether a full blown LP is in the cards for Eterknight, but given the stellar results that chased Northland's 2007 demo Freezing Sadness a mere three years later, the old school Ensiferum fan base may want to show this outfit some love to help grease the skids. This obviously makes no secret of where its influences originate, but the songwriting is strong enough and the melodies infectious enough to make it a non-issue.

Our fate becomes darker. - 75%

Diamhea, December 16th, 2016

Amid the wave of recent Bandcamp excursions I have put myself through, Mexico's Eterknight impressed me more than most bands in their particular field, that being symphonic power metal laced with ephemeral harshness courtesy of some burly melodeath moments and an overall Ensiferum-influenced approach. Winter's Calling is presented as the band's second EP but content-wise it barely passes muster under those criteria, consisting of only about ten minutes of material, plus one of the three songs is a throwaway intro. Save for washed out, reedy production values, Eterknight proffer a triumphant, Wintersun-esque amalgam of fantasy tropes redolent of many of the genre's best. The vocalists are less distinctive and skilled, but that doesn't stop them from attempting vocals via the same soaring subtext. Synths are elegant and impressive, dotting the snow-drenched landscape with corporeal, opulent fare without devolving into overdone Rhapsody-esque bombast. The closest approximation has to be Ensiferum on a musical level, but some of the multi-layered vocals sound closer to Italian power metal bands, while the riffs are less shred-centric and instead focus on meaty powerchords and such.

Of the two proper cuts here, "Winter's Heeding" is the superior of the two, feeling like a fleshed out and virile opener for what hopefully eventually becomes a full-length worth of material. Ephemeral folk trappings and synth-led diatribes with neoclassical elements are used prominently throughout this song. The only true shortcomings of Winter's Calling revolve around the length and sound quality, both facets that can be overlooked in favor of Eterknight's solid potential. With Ensiferum lapsing into monotony lately and Wintersun becoming little more than a comedy show to any self-respecting metalhead, we can always use more bands struck from this mold to help satiate us pining for symphonic melodeath. Hopefully this project takes it to the next level.