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Autumnal Glory - 93%

GuntherTheUndying, November 24th, 2014

“The Divination of Antiquity” has affected me more than any Winterfylleth release; the others can’t hold a candle to it, not even close. True to the ways of folk-infused black metal, albums like “The Ghost of Heritage” and “The Mercian Sphere” accomplished noteworthy terrains within Winterfylleth’s adventurous style without overbalancing folk elements for black metal themes or vice versa. “The Divination of Antiquity” is the first of the band’s works to truly capture Winterfylleth’s many themes and ideas while delivering the finest riffs and melodies the Brits have ever put down. It is the masterpiece that has been lingering in the shadows for years, now shining bright in its autumnal glory. This is the opus that puts Winterfylleth in league with the black metal elite.

As fantastic as it is, this does not move the Winterfylleth template beyond a degree of its natural setting. In fact, it’s fair to call “The Divination of Antiquity” just another Winterfylleth release on paper, but this, in part, is what makes the record such an exhilarating experience. The tremolo-picked sections and black metal riffs are easily the most captivating guitar parts from any Winterfylleth release, intricately layered by memorable melodies and poised beautifully between elements both calm and frenzied. Also unchanged are the quick, effective percussion patterns and the harsh vocals that possess the work of this group, but again, this is the source of the record’s success. These themes are nearly identical to sequences found on prior records, yet they are more focused, well-placed, meaningful, rich, and fulfilling. The brilliance of it is that nothing within the group has dramatically changed. It is a wonderful familiarity, one that sounds whole, a balance perfected.

The dualism of Winterfylleth has never appeared so profound. Much like autumn itself (the word ‘Winterfylleth’ was the Old English term for October, you know), the mix of black metal riffs and styles with folk melodies, pagan mantras, and serene sections creates a deathly yet gorgeous hue. Take, for instance, “Whisper of the Elements,” where seamlessly they bounce from compelling tremolo-picked riffs to a place of striking clean guitars and wonderful atmosphere at the drop of a hat, the transition far from awkward or misdirected. There is a thoughtful grace in the typically-intense brand of black metal Winterfylleth applies, and while the band’s autumnal elegance is nothing new, it never has been anywhere near this absorbing.

Yet the bards of Winterfylleth have improved leaps and bounds as songwriters. Take the pristine lead melodies and atmospheric elements on “A Careworn Heart” and “Forsaken in Stone,” which make the tunes the deepest numbers in the band’s catalog. The focus on mood and texture lead to stellar tracks, each burning on its own cinder. Although there are many sequences within, none of the anthems from “The Divination of Antiquity” are remotely lacking. The terrain remains the same, but the riffs are better, the percussion is more effective, and the songs shine bright with autumn’s glory. “The Divination of Antiquity” is the first of Winterfylleth’s albums to create a dominating presence, crushing expectations and shattering creative barriers that had slightly impeded the band’s journey on “The Threnody of Triumph.” Excellent work.

This review was written for: www.Thrashpit.com

To Unknown Shores - 75%

Tengan, October 14th, 2014
Written based on this version: 2014, CD, Candlelight Records

I have to admit I never really got into the folk-influenced black metal scene, with Skogen and Winterfylleth being the notable exceptions. The former for their melancholic beauty and the latter for their combination of aggression and subtle melodies. Needless to say ‘The Divination of Antiquity’ has been highly anticipated after its slightly uninspiring and lukewarm predecessor. The Englishmen has not so far made any giant leaps musically but still evolved their sound from album to album. This, their fourth full-length bears all the traits of being an odd relic from 9th century England, a time when the land was plagued by Viking attacks and every day was a struggle for the lonely wayfarer. An echo from the past, yet still a glimpse of an uncertain future, a future well hidden on past efforts by the quartet.

From a strictly musical standpoint fans of old will get few apparent surprises really. The drums move swiftly between a controlled mid tempo and a frantic up-tempo, controlling the intensity firmly throughout the album. The tremolo-heavy guitars more than often move in the mid- or doom-tempo seen on earlier works with a slight shift to more numerous slower passages. This tempo contrast towards the drums has worked well on their earlier albums in creating an underlying tension and does the trick once again. Working from a fundamental subtly folk-influenced riff on most songs, variation comes from small changes in the riff structure, hooks and smooth transition passages. Small means, yet effective in making 7 minute songs seem to pass in half the time. More apparent though is the more frequent use of beautiful melodic leads that lifts many songs on ‘The Divination of Antiquity’. Despite being clear as the rest of the production the guitar sound is the bands thinnest to date and lacks proper force, it feels almost constrained. The screaming black metal vocals, familiar to the initiated, however compensates admirably for the lack of power in the guitar works. Despite being held back in the mix, they bring pure power into the equation. Something lacking though is the clean vocals that brought for instance ‘Defending the Realm’ (both versions really) to amazing heights. Only present at the end of ‘Forsaken in Stone’ it fails to bear the conviction of earlier works. This is partly compensated by numerous chanting choirs throughout the album, but they do not quite do the trick.

From a strict musical standpoint this is an improvement over ‘The Threnody of Triumph’, but does not reach the brilliance of the debut and sophomore discs despite growing slightly with each of the so far seven spins. ‘The Divination of Antiquity’ does however offer an emotional journey seen on few albums ever before. A journey that with a bit of imagination is a logical continuation of the bands cover arts. Starting out with the aggression of the dark and perilous moors and mountains, the band evolved into more melodic and emotionally sophisticated territories with the incorporation of more and more tranquil and restful watercourses. Taking a glimpse at the cover of ‘The Divination of Antiquity’ one can correctly assume that this has simply culminated.

Starting out in the moors and mountains the listener is thrown between struggle and despair, melancholy and short reliefs. Familiar feelings for the fans, executed with experience and conviction, yet without that up-front aggression. In ‘A Careworn Heart’ however the tide turns quickly. Epic and beautiful it bears sanctuary and solemn relief to the fold. A stunning track! A last struggle quickly follows to reach the shore where security awaits, and yet uncertainty of what will come. The acoustic piece (the only one on the album) ‘The World Ahead’ is almost prophetically titled. The album then closes with the journey to unknown shores. Despite changing few parts of the musical formula compared to the opening tracks, the album ends with less intensity, more beauty and familial safety intertwined with a slight unease of the coming unknown.

Albeit growing with each spin, yet not reaching the musical peaks of the mountains of old, ‘The Divination of Antiquity’ sees Winterfylleth taking their well-established formula into emotional territories previously unknown. A journey leaving the listener with a sole question: ‘What will come to pass?’


Originally written for www.metalcovenant.com

Winterfylleth - The Divination of Antiquity - 80%

ThrashManiacAYD, October 12th, 2014

As far as British extreme metal bands of today go Winterfylleth have earned the right to call themselves number one. Now four albums in, the Manchester four-piece have developed a style resolutely their own and shown remarkable consistency in doing so, with none of this quartet of LPs displaying any hint of writer’s block approaching their frenzied, yet natural, sound. On top of a performance schedule which has seen them secure numerous support slots for touring bands of varying styles and a welter of festival appearances (proven by my having seen them 8 times from a first in 2010) there really has been no stopping Winterfylleth since their 2008 debut "The Ghost of Heritage”, a case which looks very much set to continue with "The Divination of Antiquity”.

At this juncture I find myself tempted to label Winterfylleth ‘Britain’s Amon Amarth’: both take lyrical and musical influence from their own national heritage, stick to a busy release and concert schedule, and have the knack of continually carving out catchy and melodic songs from a template which changes relatively little from album to album. This last point is crucial and ensures that if you have liked their breakthrough "The Mercian Sphere" or "The Threnody of Triumph" you WILL like this new release. The band blast out off the blocks with the title track which headlines with fantastic intent from the key rhythm riff commencing at 40s, before "Whisper of the Elements", the track which was chosen to lead as a pre-release, showcases everything that is great about the band - lyrics reciting appreciation of the natural world and an insanely appreciable lead riff which intertwines accessibility with the continual pounding of drummer S. Lucas.

As has always been the case with Winterfylleth, the songs land at above-average lengths (all but near-instrumental "The World Ahead" top six mins with three above eight) and drift through numerous phases whereby as the listener it is a rare occurrence to feel short-changed from any track. Throughout the early part of the record the band focus on the high speed end of their sound, formed from Lucas’ barrage of snare hits and the ceaseless symphony of rhythm coming from bassist N. Wallwork and guitarists M. Wood and C. Naughton; this trio are by now a very coherent set of riff-writers who prefer to work primarily as a unit with very little individual flair displayed by any but a weighty competence when one considers the flowing riffs which are the basis of every song. The longest track "A Careworn Heart" meanders through a careful, quaint acoustic introduction with a subtle example of the baritone chanting which is widely loved in the band before "Foundations of Ash" increases momentum without bringing anything dramatically new to the album. The latter stages of the album remain strong, however: the bridges of "Over Borderlands" have a distinctive recent Amon Amarth feel to them with their slow lead chords smoothly segueing into the fast climax and another welcome opportunity for some clean vocal chanting, a feature I feel is under-utilised against Naughton’s unchanging harsh throaty bellows. "Forsaken in Stone" pervades a more relaxed genteel feel, as if on the comedown from a victory in battle, as well as finally using some proper lyrical chanting (as opposed to the ahhh’s and wooo’s of earlier) before "Pariah’s Path" closes what is another excellent album in searing, positive fashion. "The Divination of Antiquity" does not bring any new elements to the table of Winterfylleth but it is however another fine addition to their burgeoning canon and one you’d be unwise to miss out on.

Originally written for Rockfreaks.net

Instant Satisfaction - 95%

Vikingr Vrede, October 8th, 2014
Written based on this version: 2014, CD, Candlelight Records USA

Winterfylleth is a band that never seems to really disappoint. After hearing the second album, The Mercian Sphere, a few years ago I have been craving this bands new work like crack cocaine. While I don't believe that the Threnody Of Triumph was as good as the Mercian Sphere, it was still a solid album and soon I was craving their next release: The Divination of Antiquity. Released in October 2014 like their debut album, Ghost of Heritage (something you should also check out if you like this album), they have delivered another opus. Enough of that though, on to the music.

As soon as I acquired this album and played the first track, the title track, I knew I was going to be hearing something great. The track opens right away with the black metal tremelos, with high melodies and lower mid range droning tremelo harmonies. The guitar work I have found isn't usually anything amazing in Winterfylleth's work, not flashy or technical, as is usually the case in black metal (in my experience). It is solid though; it is always on point with the tempo and the tone is perfect. Some may say it isn't raw enough, but for a folk influenced black metal band it is good.

Winterfylleth has a style mixing folk music and atmospheric metal with black metal much like their UK brothers in arms, Wodensthrone (another great band but a review for another day). The music definitely has a great atmospheric feel to it, not really ambient like something along the lines of Elderwind. There are usually the sounds of blast beats and aggressive riffing playing nearly nonstop. It really creates an almost relaxing atmosphere.

The folk bits are amazing as usual. They are not overused unlike some other bands that use so much folk sound its less metal and more of folk, so it is usually very refreshing and welcome. Every time there is an acoustic passage it is placed well within the songs and transitions well into and out of them.

The drumming on this album is commendable as always. Winterfylleth's drumming on all their albums is played by Lucas, who has a great sound. The mix is not too loud and doesn't overpower the sounds of the other instrumentation or the vocalist. The blast beats are on point and played very well, with drum fills placed in good points to not let the drums become monotonous; a problem I have with a few black metal bands (though that may have to do with the often used drum program in one man projects). Another thing I have to mention is organic. The drums sound organic as hell and you can tell they are definitely played by a skilled musician. The bass and snare sound like a real drum kit, aren't over processed and you can hear the accents played on the snare, toms, and cymbals. Lucas has once again delivered a very skilled, heartfelt performance.

The vocals on this album is nothing spectacular, but it is very good. You can almost feel the raw emotion in the screeches belted by the band members. The vocal job is shared between three of them, the guitarist, bassist, and drummer, and they did very well. Again, nothing spectacular, but still a solid performance. The bass in this album is kind of down played unfortunately, so I don't have much to say for this.

From this albums beginning I got instant satisfaction, happy that Winterfylleth had once again made a masterpiece. It is a shame that this band and their brother band Wodensthrone aren't more famous in the world of metal, as they have consistently shown great skill and emotion in their music. Definitely an album worth checking out for any fan of folk or black metal. I am not sure it is as good as their second album, but it definitely comes close and was enough to make my year. Songs to look at: "Divination of Antiquity", " Whisper of the Elements", "The World Ahead", "Foundation of Ash".

Antiquity Beckons the Thaw of Winter - 98%

H_P Buttcraft, October 8th, 2014

Isn’t it ironic how I am enjoying Winterfylleth in the Summer? I think any time of the year is a great time to start listening to this British band whether you’re already familiar with their music or just now getting exposed to them. Winterfylleth is an under-appreciated atmospheric black metal band from Manchester, England that have been gaining steam in both the English music underground but also obtaining notoriety in the international metal collective. One only needs to look as far as the band’s logo to really get a good sense as to what their music sounds like; organic, twisted, massive, bewildering, transcendent. Their latest release ‘The Divination of Antiquity’, like their previous releases, is a further exploration through black metal into the ancient and awe-inspiring natural landscapes and local history of England.

We really start to delve into the core of what makes Winterfylleth so amazing and still so underrated on the second track “Whisper of the Elements”. The album’s opening title track “The Divination of Antiquity”, is only a mediocre black metal staple song in comparison to the track that proceeds it. It is on “Whisper of the Elements” that we begin to see the band craft much more definite and colorful sonic landscapes. The guitar riffs, which sound very punishing to perform from a musician’s standpoint, produce a large, luminescent tone over the majestic double-kick drum patterns. Then the song ascends into something way more melodic and atmospheric before plunging you back downwards with titanic force. If this isn’t already a clear indicator that you are now a Winterfylleth fan, I don’t know what more its going to take from the band to impress you. My standards for black metal are pretty high and “Whisper of the Elements” greatly exceeds them.

One of the shining moments on ‘The Divination of Antiquity’ is the grandiose anthem “A Careworn Heart”. It begins with a beautiful folk intro to which calls back to the somber and hypnotizing acoustic Ulver album ‘Kveldssanger’. After that movement’s conclusion, the song goes into one of the most memorable riffs on the entire album which becomes even more catchy once the guitar find their way into the mix. This song is heavily reminiscent of songs I’ve heard before from Drudkh, Agalloch and Fen. “A Careworn Heart”, if it was the only worthwhile track on this record, would rocket this albums rating way past a mediocre rating.

But thankfully, the rest of the songs on this album are rewarding in the same sense. Each tracks really feeds off of each other. “Warrior Herd” and “Foundations of Ash” exemplify Winterfylleth’s ability to unleash a hellish storm of blackened blast beat drums and crystalline-pure atmospheric instrumentals. A great complimentary song would be “Over Borderlands”, which clinches this album for higher platforms of greatness in Metal.

I’ve seen it written that the key to a great atmospheric album is to create the illusion that time is somehow going by at a different pace as when you listen to this record. I would certainly say this theory holds up with songs on ‘The Divination of Antiquity’. Many of these songs come very close to being ten minutes in track length but upon listening to them, you are never anxious for the song to end. The song composition is perfect to lose yourself in. This was the exact same way I felt about Winterfylleth’s previous releases like ‘The Mercian Sphere’.

For news journalists, I think this summer has been hell, but as far as Metal journalists like yours truly are concerned, this summer has been heavenly. This release from Winterfylleth continues a strong representation of Heavy Metal music in 2014 that I’ve also seen from bands like Woods of Desolation, Artificial Brain and Spectral Lore.

‘The Divination of Antiquity’ is an album that creates a large demand for attention from their audiences. Although this requirement seems exhaustive, its is only because the musicians of Winterfylleth have put a large amount of endurance into writing these songs and putting them all down on this album to the best of their abilities. I think that the challenge to stick with this album until the end will be a rewarding experience to the listener and ‘The Divination of Antiquity’ will not wear out its welcome. And yes, you will want to listen to it more than once.

Originally published on Metal-Temple.com, 8-18-14.

Our Hands We Raise In Gentle Union... - 95%

Larry6990, October 7th, 2014
Written based on this version: 2014, CD, Candlelight Records USA

Winterfylleth-mania has swept the British metal underground, and I am not even slightly ashamed to admit that I have been caught in the wave. I am also not ashamed to admit that Winterfylleth are possibly my favourite black metal band. Their brand of contained, ancient fury which expresses a devotion to one's homeland is highly addictive - sort of like the British version of Finland's Moonsorrow. Their debut "The Ghost of Heritage" set up the framework for an unusually unique identity. Follow-up "The Mercian Sphere" expanded the scope with lengthier tracks and epic breadth. 2012's "The Threnody of Triumph" was a rather mellow, and slightly more accessible affair. But this year, the four Englishmen may have just hit their peak. "The Divination of Antiquity" (whatever that means) can be seen as a collection of all the best ideas from the previous releases sifted into a cauldron, and then sprinkled with something magic...

Firstly, that cover art - As a Welshman, I am incredibly proud to live among the rolling hills and dense woodland of Great Britain. This is another chord Winterfylleth strike with me; their sense of British pride is heart-warming, but not overwhelming. In the past, their patriotism has been mistaken for racism, but "The Divination of Antiquity" should effectively put keep those petty accusations at bay. Never before have I heard such an outpour of emotions that strive toward the appreciation of one's natural surroundings...well, not since "The Mercian Sphere" anyway.

All the characteristics that make Winterfylleth's catalogue so wondrous are present: Chris Naughton's distant-yet-distinctive voice, the polished production quality, the melodious dissonance in the guitars, the folklorish atmosphere, and most importantly, those choral vocals which add much-needed variety and made tracks like "Defending The Realm" and "A Valley Thick With Oaks" so memorable. But there is another element, whispering (hehe!) its way around the music, that gives this album a magic touch. It's difficult to pinpoint, but maybe a dissection of some of the songs will enlighten us...

The first three tracks set the ball rolling very agreeably, with some mournful melodies crooning over the fury beneath. "Whisper of the Elements" is especially notable for its grandiose closing section; evoking a whirlwind of emotion. Fourth track, "A Careworn Heart", is where things are taken to the next level: Layers of instruments are built upon a simple acoustic guitar melody, which finally climaxes into a sorrowful lament, making the most of its 9-minute duration. Easily the best track on the album.

One of the 'magic' elements has been identified! "The Divination of Antiquity" succeeds in embracing a larger variety of timbres and song-structures. There are up-tempo blackened blast-fests. There are creeping, brooding elegies. And there's the token folk instrumental in the shape of "The World Ahead". I'm not at all implying that their previous efforts were dull and samey affairs - but this 2014 release is a true testament to the diversity that is possible within black metal.

Closing epic "Forsaken In Stone" is the perfect way to round off such an atmospheric and ethereal journey. Its lugubrious melodies, forlorn choir and shambling tempo bring the overall tone of melancholy to a fitting conclusion.

Winterfylleth certainly have their naysayers (as does every artist that suddenly achieves a meteoric rise to renown). Let's hope that this brand new chapter can convert a few! "The Divination of Antiquity" is not just a collection of black metal songs. It's a musical voyage which must be experienced in its entirety. It almost reaches the heights of Moonsorrow's unbeatable "V: Havitetty" in terms of sentiment and pathos. So let the fire of patriotism burn brightly and, as Manowar once said: Hail to England!

Whether sun doth shine,
Or rain descend,
I remain, I will remain,
Till all life's end!

The Divination Of Antiquity - 85%

diogoferreira, October 7th, 2014

Winterfylleth started 2014 by releasing a split LP with the giants Drudkh, where they participated with a Hate Forest cover. And nothing better to enter the last quarter of the year than with a new album titled “The Divination Of Antiquity”, via Candlelight Records. Paving their path within the underground scene, Winterfylleth are already a band worthy of respect due to the great albums they’ve released. Let’s not forget that they are part of the movement that gave black metal a new outfit, mixing ancient themes with a new musical approach leading to what we call today post black metal and atmospheric black metal.

After a well-structured and compact title track that opens “The Divination Of Antiquity”, there’s a lead guitar moment in “Whisper Of The Elements” that gets the attention of even the most distracted ears. That moment can be fleeting, but the song evolves into an epic and post-metal oriented soundscape that makes every sense as if linked with that melodic moment. The first distinct fusion between folk and metal appears in “A Careworn Heart”, as we have a union between an acoustic guitar and Naughton’s growls, followed by guttural chants reminding of ancient rituals. When talking about atmospheric black metal with a folkloric and pagan background, it’s inevitable to recall what Eastern European bands have done before Winterfylleth for the last ten years, so the track “Foundations of Ash” is a fine example of that because of the fast, disquieting and apocalyptic riffs supported by a sonic drum work.

Usually it’s said that the best is saved for last, and Winterfylleth are no exception, since the last track “Forsaken In Stone” is truly an ode to the atmospheric black metal scene with soundscapes that can lift us up to the skies and make us proud of the fact that such bands exist. The sound wave created in this final song caused by the uninterrupted and melodic guitar riffs crosses introspection with heroism, a sentiment that fits so well with the Nordic countries. “The Divination of Antiquity” is unquestionably one of the best albums of the year within the pagan oriented black metal division and it’s a must-hear work.

Originally written at www.againstmagazine.com