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Winter's Breath - Graveyard Symphonies - 87%

Edmund Sackbauer, June 21st, 2021
Written based on this version: 2021, CD, Via Nocturna

It is always a special pleasure for me to discover a new and promising project from Austria. My latest find is Winter’s Breath, a one man black metal band from Vienna. Based on the information available it seems as if this is the first foray into producing black metal by BL, the brain behind Winter’s Breath. While there is a huge pile of releases being thrown at fans of the genre each week the quality varies, but BL shows a great understanding about what black metal is all about and delivers with confidence. The main strength of “Graveyard Symphonies” is how everything stays within the boundaries of the genre’s traditions without sounding too bland.

On can already tell based on the cover artwork that this is a very atmospheric album so it should not come as surprise that things start off with a solemn intro before the riffs of the first real track “Desperate Soul” enter the scene. While the basic riffing is fine it is obvious from the get-go that the main attraction here are the melodies provided by the lead guitar and the keyboards, sometimes coming in form of other instruments like flutes etc. The interplay between the often melancholic and epic harmonies and the symphonic sound-passages is something which is not new of course, but BL has a good feeling for note sequences and how to put them in a row to create some nicely flowing songs.

Sometimes those symphonic elements are used more subtly, creating a spacey and at times also melancholic atmosphere in the background, while in other sections they are present in a more prominent manner, dominating whole passages and putting their stamp on each single song. Psychedelic and atmospheric avenues are explored, and each track and interlude is constructed with thought, imagination, and skill. The whole album is embedded in a hypnotic aura, making it easy to lose yourself within the music without noticing, and lose track of time, while listening to it. This album is for fans of immersive music who are seeking more than just a bunch of single tracks bundled together. This is one of the records which feel like a journey through mystical places.

The production is pretty good and clean, although the overall sound seems a bit dry and the guitars and the (probably programmed) drums could have done with a bit more punch. The melodic samples and harmonies are all perfectly audible, so nothing get buried in the mix. The vocals are pretty much your usual genre standard, competently done though. The lyrics are kept in English and from what I can tell there is a red thread running through them – although to be perfectly honest I have not studied them extensively. All in all “Graveyard Symphonies” is a really well done piece of symphonic and atmospheric black metal. Nothing out of the ordinary and probably not a future classic, but definitely worth 50 minutes of your time.