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Through Epic Black Metal And Dark Ambient - 80%

diogoferreira, February 13th, 2015

After four years of almost total silence regarding studio releases, the Finnish black metallers Satanic Warmaster came back with “Fimbulwinter” that was released via Werewolf Records in November.

The first two songs are oriented to the more traditional black metal due to the fast drums comprised by thunderous blast beats and by well-sharpened guitar riffs that wander through fields of bleakness just to emerge from that infernal sonority into melodic sections. In order to better understand that initial phase, we can recall bands such as Taake and Angantyr or even Dimmu Borgir in their early years due to a quasi-symphonic passage in “Funeral Wolves”. Then, we start to enter in a musical new phase in which the rawest aggressiveness, yet well executed, is replaced by more melodic and even atmospheric soundscapes, like in “When Thunders Hail”, in which the keyboards give us a medieval taste. However, we don’t get stuck just there since the more melodic guitars reach an epic imaginary that’s so characteristic within the most warrior black metal.

Heavy metal as Satanic Warmaster’s source of inspiration is a known aspect, so it’s not a strange thing if we find some moments related to the metal’s mother genre, like in “Nuin-Gaer-Faun”, in which we have guitar solos and leading moments comprised by mid-tempo and extremely melodious soundscapes. Also, let’s praise the bass guitar lines that come to surface in great harmony with the rest of the instruments.

There’s also a third and last phase in which the powerful black metal of the track “Winter’s Hunger” is interrupted by a canvas of sounds oriented to dark ambient with some electronic arrangements reminding of Nargaroth’s “Spectral Visions of Mental Warfare”. This approach, that’s not new at all, proves that’s possible to overthrow limitations as we don’t need to be orthodox minds forever. In turn, the almost nine minutes long “Silent Call of Moon’s Temples” is more driven into the medieval ambient that was perpetrated by Mortiis or Wongraven in the early and mid-1990s – it’s slow, dark and foggy, but above all, beautiful. Excepting the adjective ‘slow’, the other ones are easily what define this new “Fimbulwinter”.

Originally written at www.againstmagazine.com

The winter rages on. - 85%

Witchfvcker, December 11th, 2014
Written based on this version: 2014, CD, Werewolf Records (Digipak)

For a band that remains submerged in the Finnish black metal underground, Satanic Warmaster has steadily become a surprisingly widespread cult phenomenon. The four years that have passed since Nachzehrer have been filled with singles and a live album, as the band’s growing popularity has foreshadowed a grand return of the barbarian wolves. With this in mind, one could easily have expected Fimbulwinter to arrive with resounding hype, yet project mastermind Werwolf has opted for a low-key release on his own Werewolf Records. Thus Satanic Warmaster embody the paradoxical symbiosis of black metal and the internet, where a band approaching 250 000 Facebook-followers keeps releasing limited vinyl with little to no advertising.

Fimbulwinter immediately separates itself from the bulk of the Warmaster-discography with its markedly improved production values. The signature tin-can sound is scrapped in favor of a fuller mix, making for a significant departure from the raw atmospheres of Nachzehrer and especially Opferblut. Obviously we’re not talking about Satyricon-levels of slickness though, and despite the somewhat blunted sound, the furious drums and simple yet effective riffs all scream Satanic Warmaster. None of the songs here dip below the 5-minute mark, and consequently the punk rock approach has been toned down in favor of more varied compositions.

The atmosphere throughout Fimbulwinter does not venture far from previous outings, although the structure is somewhat more varied than the lackluster Nachzehrer. Torrential blizzards of riffs and characteristic synths convey the proper arctic moods, accentuated by the occasional acoustic guitar. There’s no immediately brilliant tracks on par with “One Shining Star” or “Carelian Satanist Madness” here, but instead the album keeps a consistently high quality. Predictably there are strong traces of Burzum running through these cold veins, but the primitive sound is expanded upon in longer numbers such as “Dragon’s Egg” and “Nuin-Gaer-Faun”. Transitioning fully into electronic music, “Winter’s Hunger” and the ambient conclusion “Silent Call Of Moon’s Temples” take the Satanic Warmaster-sound away from its comfort-zone, yet still carries the all-important atmospherics.

Purists may turn their noses at the somewhat more accessible sounds of Fimbulwinter, but compared to the repetitious nature of Werwolf’s last few releases this is a change for the better. Rising from the obscure reaches of the underground and into black metal canon rarely comes without a price, but Satanic Warmaster makes the transition without sacrificing musical quality. There is nothing revolutionary going on behind the scenes of Fimbulwinter, but it is an accomplished step forwards for the infernal war-machine and an excellent black metal album.


Written for The Metal Observer

Large Departure from what the Expected - 75%

Wymiociny, November 29th, 2014
Written based on this version: 2014, Digital, Independent (Bandcamp)

This album is a large departure from Werwolf’s usual style on his Satanic Warmaster releases. This album sees a huge increase in production value, leaving a cleaner and crisper sound. To some degree this hurts the album as one of the largest appeals to Satanic Warmaster releases was the novelty of the old school raw sound. No longer is the rough crackling sound of an aging cassette four track heard but rather the harsh vocals and mesmerizing riffs. The album begins to sound more familiar to a Satanic Warmaster release with the tracks such as Korppi and the wonderful electronic ambient track and Silent Call of Moon’s Temples.

The pacing of this album gives the feel similar to that of a Burzum album in which the listener is taken through an epic journey. The opening track Fimbulwinter's Spell gives listeners a brutal greeting to Werwolf’s new sound with pounding drums and a hypnotic riff. The inclusion of an obscure cover from the band Vornat was certainly an interesting choice especially so early in the album but the track just flows flawlessly into Werwolf’s adventure.

The heart of Satanic Warmaster is still there but it may be missing part of its soul. This is a strong black metal release, but is a far cry from what is expected of a Satanic Warmaster album. Those looking for a typical raw and abrasive black metal album will be disappointed but those ready to listen to a solid Finnish black metal album will be quite pleased.