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Dead winter days - 87%

Wilytank, February 14th, 2013

Well, winter is back for the season, but not so you'd really notice it around my area with 60 degree Fahrenheit weather on some days. Regardless, the desire to listen to winter themed black metal returns; and among the artists to delve back into, Paysage d'Hiver is the one closest to the top of the pile. I've already expressed my enjoyment for the first two releases in Wintherr's project, but today I turn my attention to Paysage d'Hiver's self-titled release, the most popular release in this discography though probably because it's the easiest to acquire because you can actually buy an mp3 version off of Amazon or iTunes. I'm sure if Steineiche or Schattengang weren't as limited in their distribution, they'd get more praise because when compared to those two, I find the self-titled to be actually weaker. But Paysage d'Hiver is stunning nonetheless.

This release is a lot rawer sounding than anything Paysage d'Hiver has done before, which is saying a lot considering the band's music has been known for being raw as hell. There's more fuzz here which kinda makes it difficult to approach when it's harder to make out the music. There's also less tempo variation; two of the three songs here stay on the same pace for most of their lengths save for a lower tempo break. This would make the songs totally boring save for the fact that Wintherr did include enough riff changes to keep things interesting, the exception being the less varied "Gefrorener Atem" which turns out consequentially to be the weakest of the three songs on the album. I will say one good thing about it though: its slow tempo is a nice break after the faster "Welt Aus Eis" and before "Der Weg".

Tobias Mockl never had any trouble of letting the guitars drive the atmosphere in his music in both Paysage d'Hiver and Darkspace, but the extra keys and other elements do help the atmosphere along yet not overpowering the song. There's no keys in "Welt Aus Eis" until the very end after all other instruments stop playing, so the guitars get to play on as the blizzard they are. What "Welt Aus Eis" does have is a violin that plays a sweet sounding melody over the metal music. Meanwhile, "Der Weg" has the most changes starting off fast before slowing gradually down. It also has the most extra instruments used with acoustic guitars and keyboards played alongside the usual metal instruments. "Gefrorener Atem" also makes use of keyboards, but like the rest of the song they aren't varied enough to be interesting to listen to.

As for the atmosphere itself, yeah the strong winds and blizzard feelings are definitely there. The tone of the music actually isn't as dark as Paysage d'Hiver's first two black metal album, leaving more of a feeling of a broad daylight like being on top of a ski resort mountain on a windy day but no clouds. One bummer I get is that there's no night time atmosphere conjured up on this release due to the lighter tone and consistently faster pace of this album. There's no equivalent of "Der Baummann" or "Moloch" on this album which they could have really used instead of "Gefrorener Atem". There's also no chilling ambient tracks here, but Mockl already blew his ambient load on Die Festung the year before anyway so go there if you want ambient.

Paysage d'Hiver isn't the best Paysage d'Hiver release, but those already into his sort of material can easily get some sort of enjoyment out of this release. If you want to experience Wintherr's true winter metal magic though, you'd do well to seek out Steineiche and Schattengang.