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Vinterriket > Winterschatten > Reviews
Vinterriket - Winterschatten

Lots of filler 1980s synth-pop and synth ambient - 60%

NausikaDalazBlindaz, May 1st, 2012

At first this black metal/ambient recording promises a great deal (though the vocals are buried very deeply in the mix), but all too soon the blizzard guitars disappear and we're left with a lot of filler 1980s-styled, synthesizer ambient music describing various aspects of winter as it affects the natural world and not in a very original way either. You can guess at what I'm hinting at: tunes in thrall to disco beats, synth-pop rhythms with hard, pure tones that hurry everything along, keeping any atmosphere development at bay and don't allow listeners to reflect on what's going on, and perhaps worst of all, smooth string orchestras that are overbearing when they should be delicate over much of the album. When the electronic rhythms are dropped, the music then acquires the necessary winteryness and improves in that respect, but the tones are still too smooth and "pure"- sounding.

Best tracks are the title track and "Schneestrum/Einbruch der weissen Dunkelheit", which feature those fierce fuzzy guitar storms that contrast texturally with the pure melodic keyboard tones and crisp drumming. At the album's end is a cover of Burzum's "Der Tod Wuotans" from his "Hlidskjalf" album, which I regard as fairly weak conceptually and musically in comparison with Burzum's other offerings. Vinterriket reverently preserves the Burzum track's melancholy and solemnity and in the process showing up his own music as lacking in strong melodies and atmosphere.

Apart from these tracks, the album fails to convey much wonder or emotion about the snowy country and the season that inspired it. Much of the music sounds preconceived and stereotyped with no attention paid to pace, sound texture, and volume dynamics.

Spacious - 90%

hailmarduk666, April 10th, 2008

Vinterriket is probably my favorite dark ambient artist. I picture myself adrift in the wilderness, looking down on peaceful floating icebergs and frozen landscapes. I think that the names of the songs are right on with what is being portrayed in the music. He has an amazing ability to musically capture the bleakness of winter, and the beauty and peace of nature. I can fall asleep to this album, or read a book, but whatever I am doing, it allows me to unwind. I can take a step back and relax and immerse myself in the music and attempt to put myself in the places he attempts to capture.

I like how the guitars and vocals are in the background as well as the drums. I feel that the black metal guitars and ferocity portrayed in the first track portray well enough the snow storm that pummels the dark landscapes of the arctic. But the fact that the actual instruments in the background is accurate, because man (in my opinion represented by the vocals, guitars, and drums) being in the wilderness is secondary to the undisturbed natural beauty of Earth (translated by the flowing soundscapes) which is in the foreground as it should be. Mother Earth does not bend to the will of man, man bends to her will. We cannot tame her, thus the guitars and other instruments remain superceded by the tranquil sounds of the keyboards.

This album makes me feel as if I am flying through the air watching a "Winter Realm" unfold before me. I can close my eyes and be whisked away to a desolate expanse of unbroken snowbanks, and icefloes.

This album moves very well, and I like how it goes unbroken from one expanse to the next, and there are no breaks. There are no breaks in the cold of the arctic, or in Vinterriket's mind, thus it is justified that the album floats along. I feel that if you aren't ready for a soft, ambient album, then you probably won't like it. If you are looking for something that you can meditate on the beauty of snow and ice, then this is the album for you. The dead trees, cold, brillance of the sun reflected on the snowy soundscapes create wonderful images in my mind when I listen to this mellow, thoughtful album.

Improved but far from perfect - 59%

Pestbesmittad, December 26th, 2006

I haven’t been impressed with Vinterriket’s ambient black metal stuff in the past. The first release of his in this style that I heard was “Stürme der Letzten Stille” and although it received very good reviews and lots of praise I never understood what was so special about it. On the contrary, I found it very amateurish and comical. “Winterschatten” is indeed better than “Stürme” but that alone is not enough. There are still bands that perform this type of music much better, e.g. Kataxu and Summoning.

Although “Winterschatten” is better than “Stürme”, it still suffers from some of the same problems as that particular release. The guitars are still quite weak but they are at least louder in the mix this time. On “Stürme” the vocals were clean and sounded horribly out of key all the time. Here the vocals are screamy all the way, which is a plus, but they still don’t sound very good. Instead the vocals sound weak and desperate, they are definitely not good black metal vocals. Another thing is that the vocals have been mixed so low that they’re hardly audible. Perhaps this was intentional but it annoys me a lot. If you’ve got something to say, say it, don’t hide in the background, haha. I also think that the music still has an amateurish touch to it that disturbs my listening pleasure, it still sounds a bit cheap and unconvincing at times. A drum machine is used instead of real drums and that doesn’t sound very good to me (the drum machine didn’t sound good on “Stürme” either btw.). Fortunately the guitars and the drum machine aren’t present on all tracks.

On a positive note, the compositions themselves are all quite fluent despite being between seven and eight minutes in length. The listener is transported through different landscapes and it’s easy to just let yourself go with the music. Especially “Verschneite Wälder” (“Snowy Forests”) is truly dark and wintry, just like the title suggests. Much of the ambient stuff here reminds me of a Finnish ambient band called Jääportit, whose first two demos should be of interest to anyone who likes the keyboard tracks on this album (i.e. “...endlos und karg...”, “Verschneite Wälder” and “Das Ewige Eis”). While I do admit that Vinterriket has made clear improvements compared to earlier releases, “Winterschatten” is still far from being one of the greats in the ambient black metal genre. The vocals need to become better and I’d also prefer real drums instead of a drum machine. A more professional production would help to get to get rid of the amateurish touch that “stains” this album. Having said that, this is at least worth checking out if you like ambient black metal.

Starts off great but plunges into boredom... - 68%

Skullhammer, July 12th, 2006

For those of you who don't know Vinterriket, it's a one man black metal/ambient project. Some releases are pure dark ambient music while others have very dark and misanthropic black metal songs as well. This is one of those albums.

The album starts off with Schneesturm/ Einbruch der weissen Dunkelheit which is the best song on here. It slowly fades in with sounds of desolate landscapes for about the first minute and a half and then the black metal comes in. This song is just perfect. It's very dark with nice riffs and very catchy and memorable keyboard melodies. Winterschatten follows a similar pattern. It's not as good as the previous track but an awesome song anyway.

Then comes the ambient portion of this album. Eisige Feuer is the first ambient track and it the only good ambient track on here. The other three ambient tracks are, of course, dark and gloomy but are just plain dull. The only thing they're made up of are dark keyboard chords and nothing else. Just gloomy, misanthropic keyboard chords for 7 minutes a song. I found none of them memorable. They're very monotonous and extremely repetitive.

The positives are the first three tracks obviously. The two black metal songs here are simply perfect and contain some weird technoey funky sounds as well in short breaks which, as weird as it sounds, sounds pretty damn good. It's unique and original and it somehow works.

The negatives are the final three ambient tracks which is just boring dark keyboards for 7 minutes. Another bad thing is the vocals. They're done great but put very low in the mix which seems to be a Vinterriket trademark. I don't know why. They sound a bit like Burzum on the song War. The vocals really should've been higher in the mix. Everything else sounds perfect. The drum machine is obvious but it doesn't feel to be out of place or anything.

All in all, it's an above average album really. If the latter three tracks sounded anything like the first three then this would've been a perfect album. Unfortunately, it's not. The first three tracks are simply amazing but all the sudden it just shifts to boring gloomy keyboard tracks...

Behold! Ambient Masterpiece! - 100%

Shadow0fDeath, September 11th, 2004

Vinterriket's 2003 album, Winterschatten is a very earthily, and authentic in the ambient sound. In every way an atmospheric masterpiece that sounds much like walking through nature and listening to the darker tunes of it's sound. While a brilliant album the vocals are hard to identify and really take away from the overall sound. Nonetheless Vinterriket has proven to be a feat for the ambient world as nothing short of brilliant. Sometimes you imagine walking through a forest in the dead middle of night where all you see ahead is darkness, other times with the wind blowing in your face as you stand alone in the cold weather.

The drumming and piano you can hear every now and then is a brilliant effort that helps make the atmosphere even more pleasent as you listen to this beautiful work of art. Unlike most ambient this one isn't music that you listen to waiting for wallpaper to dry and being extremely boring. Not at all. Vinterriket are so diverse and powerful with their musical majesty that there is no way you can deny the epic brilliance this album summons upon you. Very vivid in it's visuals and is like a portrait through the darkness this album seductively embraces.

Its gonna be a long cold winter.... - 88%

Danthrax_Nasty, August 27th, 2004

Winterschatten is mainly an ambient album (like all the others I have heard from Vinterriket), which consists of lots of keyboard atmosphere, somber imagery, and just an overall tone of depression. There is definitely a theme present on this album, but what exactly that encompasses beyond the obvious cold, dark, quiet lurking savagry of winter, and the nihilistic bleak mourning of desolate idleness is not exactly known to me,... seeing as I do not understand the lyrics (I'm not an idiot their just in an foreign tongue). If you enjoy long passages of meloncholic atmosphere then you may just enjoy this.

A couple down sides I will note quickly is the horrid use of Black Metal vocals, reminding me of when you slightly speak into a mic, with a whisper like accent to it, and with a bunch of effects (probably like a raised gain, or hall type effect) on it to give it a slightly blackend sound,...weak, but not really to bad seeing as there really arent many vocals on the album. Another thing that I didnt care too much for were the electronica sounding loops which are too overly used, and just kinda like "argh,..I wish that wasnt there", but that really only relateing to a few spots on the album I disliked somewhat. Also one big thing that would have helped would be more guitar, cause the tracks with guitar in them are much better songs than those with out. Now on to the fellatio...

There are an abundance of great rythms, lush, vivid tones, and powerfully doom laiden emotions on here,...and just throw in the mix some random electronic elements, and some pretentiousness, and you get it. This really is a great album, and the music is very well written, and interesting. Most of the melodies on here are fairly mid-paced to slow; basically a bottom rythm, or melody, that revolves around some keyboard based chord pattern (giving each chord a full count), and overlayed with some background effects, and on top a lead sythn that, most often, is playing a great lead that uses the under layed harmonies to majesticlly capture an avant garde-ish, creative full sound (probably could be said of many albums though). Mood wise, this album is definitely one that is better in solitude, at night, in the forest as snow falls to a white imbedded forest floor, or to sleep too, but do as thou wilt.

Another good point to elaborate on is the almost flawless, and effortless progression changes that really enhances the feel of each song, kinda making the changes abrupt, and constrainded, but allowing for the mix to filter out what should be, and adding a certain properness to the sound. Perfectly mixed, and produced, as well as recorded to a professional degree,...seriously...perfect mix though (IMO). I have NO complaints about the production at all really. Maybe next time get a better singer, but thats kinda taste really, I think.

Many highlights on here, but these tracks are my favorites:
Track 4 - ... endlos und karg ...
Very minimalistic, slow, and basically a very doomy, nihilistic atmoshpere. Reminds me alot of some of the material on Burzum's Hlidskjalf in the begining of the song, and a few other parts I believe.

Track 2 - Winterschatten
Grand, and epic, this one seems to just have some of the best harmonies, and lead melodies on this album. Also has guitar in it, so thats a plus. Great variety of synth tones, and lots of interesting little parts. Definitely one of Vinterriket's better songs, and certainly deserving of title track honours.

Overall I was not disappointed at all with my purchase of this, cause sure there are a few minor elements that I find to be not to my taste, but there are too many I do enjoy to find any disappointment here. Check this out if you like Ambient, or Symphonic Black Metal.

Desolate Landscapes - 100%

_D_, April 28th, 2004

Slow, spacious ambient soundscapes to drift away on sheets of ice and snow. Starting off with an older Limbonic Art style of black metal, then further distancing from any metal at all towards the end. Guitars are a blizzard of white noise concealing the far-off horrid screams that occur in the background during these moments, and minimal electronic blips and percussion offset the overall attack. Things do get quite head-y in the later half of the album, satisfying the want for desolation. The theme of the ambiance is taken over from one track to the next, creating a somewhat epic vision of a dead winter across icy ground, giving an overall impression of blasting through the snowstorm until the serene bliss of hypothermia takes hold of limbs and plunges one into absolute darkness…