Register Forgot login?

© 2002-2019
Encyclopaedia Metallum

Best viewed
without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
or higher.

Privacy Policy

Enchanting progressive melancholy - 95%

kluseba, June 12th, 2019
Written based on this version: 2003, CD, Martyr Music Group

How Like a Winter is a criminally overlooked avantgarde gothic metal band inspired by the works of Shakespeare that features later The Foreshadowing vocalist Marco Benevento, known as Dust in this line-up. The band's mixture of classical music, death metal, folk melodies, gothic stylistics and progressive influences recalls other experimental groups like the overlooked German gothic poets Adversus, frenetic French quartet Akphaezya and Luxembourg's visionaries Le Grand Guignol. The thing that makes How like a Winter stand out is that the sextet has an atmospheric, portly and structured doom metal undertone instead of the technical, fast and abrupt changes that similar bands apply.

This unique approach makes for a record that is easier to get into. It also increases its elegant poetic undertone. The experiments sound fleshed out and work much better in the band's epic tracks that take their time to unfold in up to ten minutes. Those who like the progressive side of bands like Amorphis, Katatonia and Opeth should appreciate this group to a certain degree.

Let's give a specific example in form of the record's centerpiece ''Bescreen'd'' that breaks the ten-minute mark. The song builds up an elegant yet menacing tone with guitar play that almost recalls string sections before smooth acoustic guitars give the song time to unfold peacefully. Dark poetic vocals pass by like a blur and give the song a dreamy, gloomy and mysterious vibe. The song then elaborates upon an actual guiding line in form of slow-paced riffs, melancholic violin sounds and soothingly dark vocals in the middle section. As the second half unfolds, the riffs get a little bit faster and heavier, flirting with melodic extreme metal tendencies without losing the track's overall melancholic vibe. Slower parts with relaxed vocals and playful percussive elements offer a short break before the song moderately quickens up the pace. Before things can get too stressful, the motive with smooth riffs, dreamy violin sounds and appeasing vocals returns. The final third becomes progressively darker again and uses quite technical riffs that flirt with technical death and thrash metal. Decently employed orchestral passages bring back the melancholy along with the calm vocals before the track slowly fades out. The entire song sounds like a playful battle between slow and thoughtful elements with harsh and menacing undertones that ends in a draw. Despite the numerous changes, the melancholic guiding line never gets lost. This single song features more ideas than other progressive metal bands manage to offer on entire releases.

Each new approach to this record makes another element stand out. One discovers the lazy piano melodies that fit in conceptually. The atmospheric background noises of blowing wind, screaming characters and chiming bells add cinematic depth. The duality of clean gothic rock vocals and moderate death metal vocals works perfectly. The violin play is at times inspired by playful folk elements but also shifts to more elegant classical inspirations. The occasional female choirs and vocals are used with care to add atmospheric depth to this conceptual effort. This album is filled with such brilliantly employed details that guarantee intriguing listening sessions even after half a dozen spins or more.

The only negative element that one could mention are the programmed drums. The absence of a real drummer might bother in the first two songs at first contact but one gets quickly used to it. The other instruments perform so brilliantly that one tends to forget about this minor flaw. It's not perfect from a technical point of view but doesn't disturb the record's hypnotizing melancholy.

In the end, this record should appeal to anyone who likes an experimental approach to the gothic and doom metal genres. It's a pity that the Italian sextet only released this single full length effort. How Like a Winter's ...Beyond My Grey Wake is timeless and that's exactly why it's worth your time. Progressive melancholy has never sounded so enchanting. Here's hope that the album will receive a remastered new release and get the credit it deserves one day.