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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