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Wolves in the English Throne Room - 70%

FullMetalAttorney, September 17th, 2013

I first read about Winterfylleth in Terrorizer, when they were drowning the band’s sophomore album in barrels of EPA (English Praise Ale). Since they’re a British rag, it’s easy to see why they would get their knickers knackered for a band that reinterprets Wolves in the Throne Room for the English countryside.

They do a fine job of it. It’s melancholy black metal in the WITTR style, but with English folk melodies. They’re memorable and affecting. It’s broken up by a couple of short, pure folk tracks. It’s tough to say much more about it, because the market for this kind of thing is flooded, and you should know exactly what to expect. You don’t even have to leave the “W” page of the metal listings to find more (Wodensthrone immediately comes to mind).

What comes next will sound like a completely unnecessary description. Just in case anyone has managed to avoid listening to every band in this style, I’ll go over it briefly anyway. They use tremolo riffing to create slowly-moving melodies inspired by local folk music. The drums are fast. In fact, all the instruments are playing a whole lot of notes, but the same notes are hit so many times consecutively, and they change the notes so slowly, that the sum effect is like they’re playing whole notes instead of sixteenth notes. So it comes out at a doom metal pace. The vocals are strained, rasping screeches. These guys happen to throw in the occasional baritone clean singing in a couple places as well.

And it’s a good example of the style. It even manages to keep me interested for the attention-stretching 65 minute length of the album. But there are a lot of good examples of the style, and this is not my favorite. It is above average.

So I have to ask myself: Do the English actually get more out of this than the rest of us? Does Panopticon’s Kentucky, one of the most deeply-affecting records of the last few years, fall flat to foreign ears?

originally written for

The Tragedy In Triumph - 71%

GuntherTheUndying, November 5th, 2012

With "The Threnody of Triumph," Winterfylleth’s pristine magic dwindles a bit. Anomalies that strongly contradict the band's gospel on "The Ghost of Heritage" or the continued purge into folk-infused black metal throughout "The Mercian Sphere" are completely invisible; Winterfylleth's songwriting antics seemed to have suffered to some degree. What Winterfylleth preaches on this grandiose sermon unfortunately molds quicker and leaves its mark on only a selective bunch, with a greater chunk of tunes looking a trifle dated once one ventures past the first few songs. It's actually somewhat strange, because the general postulate they've applied throughout their lifespan remains almost entirely intact, but still an essence of decline is present. Indeed, the weakest of their first three albums.

Now, before we go overboard, Winterfylleth has not committed a serious crime against humanity here. In fact, the bulk of "The Threnody of Triumph" feels completely natural and consistent toward the longevity and progression of Winterfylleth's journey into the roots of heritage. The band still produces lively tales within their paragon of standard black metal that largely focuses on the group's authentic riffs and the ethereal atmosphere forged by the whole picture coming together. It's largely a fast-paced record barring the anomalies scattered around, and you'll find few surprises if you're familiar with Winterfylleth’s other releases. The transitional pieces—"Æfterield-Fréon" and "Home Is Behind"—are again folk-based pieces that invoke a fathomless amount of power. These Englishmen do these better than the cookie-cutter slices of mediocrity often used by their counterparts, and it's surprising how much utility is successfully applied for a pair of interludes.

I did mention, however, that some parts of "The Threnody of Triumph" seem rusty. Well, at times they are clearly firing on all cylinders, but other instances yield lead guitar parts that feel awkward and misplaced ("A Thousand Winters") or even general blueprints that don't work at all. "The Glorious Plain," for instance, is probably the least memorable anthem found on Winterfylleth's first three albums; I still can't remember a thing about it. They simply run through the motions throughout similar acts of erosion such as "The Fate of Souls After Death" or "A Soul Unbound," which, although undoubtedly Winterfylleth at the core, sink under the pressure. Every song has its moments, but a good portion of the chunk runs out of fuel and lifelessly chugs along shortly thereafter, giving little in return of its consuming aura.

Under the slightly disappointing components, though, awaits a familiar application of rapturous choirs and folk themes which drive this group away from the herd, and the portrait itself remains generally enjoyable on the whole. Despite the lacking elements of "The Threnody of Triumph," Winterfylleth needs not a memorial penned in its passing, because there's still plenty of life left in the historic and prideful hymns of black metal's English scribes. I’d suggest digging into their earlier albums before handling “The Threnody of Triumph” if you haven't engaged Winterfylleth's autumnal beauty, yet it’ll definitely appeal to several interested customers despite its obvious and glaring bursts of inadequacy.

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British people talk funny - 61%

RapeTheDead, October 13th, 2012

I recently made a trip down to England; primarily because a family member was getting married there, but by the same token it's always nice to visit a foreign land and take in its own unique culture and landscape. This, I thought, would be the perfect time to get acquainted with Winterfylleth- an English folk/black metal band whose most recent album was being given almost absolute praise.  Right away, the genre description piqued my interest, as English folk/black has done me no wrong so far- I'm a big Forefather fan, and The Meads of Asphodel are cool enough too (though I'm not quite as familiar with them) so I had a good attitude and high hopes heading into this album. 

Thankfully, the "folk" prefix attached to the band doesn't mean that The Threnody of Triumph is full of fruity campfire songs and/or empty-headed sea shanties and jigs; this is a metal album first and foremost, something that's very relieving in a folk metal world overcrowded with bands like Korpiklaani and Eluveitie along with people who think those bands aren't just gay folk rock with distorted guitars and harsh vocals. The only thing reminiscent of "that kind" of folk metal here are the clean vocal sections that pop up in the occasional song or two, and even then, they're very sparse. No, here, much like the aforementioned Forefather, the "folk" prefix indicates an album composed as a more subtle testament to their homeland, with a more powerful and down-to-earth sense of pride seeping through in the melodies. However, even  Forefather tended to have some rockish tendencies in their music; Winterfylleth, on the other hand, almost solely focus on the black metal with the song structures mostly being drawn-out riff slideshows backed by steady, consistent blastbeats with a mid paced section every now and then to keep things from going stale. 

Unfortunately, they don't really succeed in keeping things fresh. Winterfylleth rarely venture outside of their little paradigm of slightly-more-melodious-than-standard-black-metal riffs and blasting throughout The Threnody of Triumph  and when they do have an acoustic break or clean vocal passage it's horribly cliched and contrived. That's not to say that an album has to have tons of ideas being thrown at you at all times to be any good- in fact, I usually quite enjoy the approach of slowly developing and evolving a few ideas over a longer period of time. The problem is, if you're only going to have a couple core themes in a song, they better be some damn interesting themes and they should evolve into something even greater. The songs on The Threnody of Triumph start off sounding nice enough, but they rely too much on texture as opposed to actual killer riffs and don't become anything more as the song goes on. They end exactly where they began and don't reward the listener at all for enduring their somewhat bloated running times.

To be perfectly blunt, Winterfylleth share a lot of parallels with Wolves in the Throne Room. They've got the aesthetic down pat, but there's no subtleties to be found within and all the songs end up being are exercises in creating said aesthetic. The songs are long (well, not relatively, but they certainly feel long) and there's not a lot going on at any given time, but the ideas don't develop so every single riff ends up saying the exact same thing. This draws from pretty much the exact same inspirational wells as Wolves in the Throne Room and ends up sounding similar in every way, but I guess since they're European and don't wear plaid it's okay for metalheads to like them. Just goes to show how much of people's taste in metal is based more off style than anything.

In the end, that makes sense because that's all this really is- all style and no substance. On my trip to England I got a good view of the landscapes on my multiple 3-hour-long train rides travelling back and forth through the country. They're pretty enough, I suppose, but somewhat plain and nothing I'd rave about to my friends. It's fitting, then, that The Threnody of Triumph gives me the exact same feeling since it's inspired by said landscapes- I don't mind it when it's on, but nothing stands out and I'd never recommend it to anyone, nor do I ever feel compelled to listen to it again. Winterfylleth should move somewhere prettier, cause until then I'm not buying their shit. 

(PS: despite the underwhelming qualities of the natural landscape, the architecture in England is awe-inspiring and the people in the more rural areas are an absolute delight; I'd totally go back again if I had the chance and I'm sorry if I offended any Brits reading this, especially with that last paragraph. You live in a nice place. )

(PPS: Your food is pretty bland, though.)

Winterfylleth – The Threnody of Triumph - 80%

Asag_Asakku, September 27th, 2012

For several years now, pagan black metal scene is experiencing tremendous growth, in Europe and elsewhere. Bands that praise nature and exotic deities swarm up in the most unlikely places. I admit, however, be rather tired before this proliferation. Too many times, released albums lack both creativity and quality. So I became more wary of new releases that end up in my Mp3 player. But these legitimate concerns are swept by repeated listenings of England band Winterfylleth’s most recent opus.

Dense, rich and enjoyable to listen, The Threnody of Triumph is an album that quickly seduced me. Of course, I already knew the group. Its music is reminiscent of some masterpieces made by their colleagues of Drudkh and fellows from Fen and Wodensthrone, but Chris Naughton and his band have just completed an amazing work.

Inspired by Albion’s folklore, the band’s songs (whose name means “October” in Old English) are all developed with environments produced by a guitar deployed in layers, with a strong, but withdrawn, drumming. Moreover, unlike other formations of the same ilk, Winterfylleth’s music never resorts to stylistic tricks, such as keyboards grandiloquence or inappropriate use of traditional instruments. Few interludes that punctuate titles, as well as instrumental Home is Behind, are interpreted with a clean guitar. Also note the judicious use of choirs, which add an epic dimension, but without ostentation.

This record makes you feel enveloped, evoking icy mist covering the ground during English autumn months. Yet, music of these October troubadours never becomes sad or melancholic. It feels like to walk in the forest, with landscapes that pass before our eyes. This is also how I suggest you to discover and enjoy this album. Come enjoy the colors of nature with your audio player and let yourself be transported in the moors of Britannia. 8/10

Originally written for Métal Obscur.

Winterfylleth - The Threnody of Triumph - 80%

ThrashManiacAYD, September 26th, 2012

Representing the more melodic side to Candlelight's UK heritage BM duo, Winterfylleth have come up with another highly engaging album in "The Threnody of Triumph" following the total success that was 2010's "The Mercian Sphere". The band's soaring riffs which were the hallmark of that release are here in plenty in amongst the more direct percussive performance and greater usage of the grand choral chanting, always the feature which has the greatest effect in the live arena.

At 10 songs in 65 minutes, "Threnody..." (‘threnody’: ”song, hymn or poem of mourning composed or performed as a memorial to a dead person”) is a meaty listen, one which will require a few spins to really grasp its finer nuances but buried within the cascades of riffs are many moments of sheer delight. The stock Winterfylleth sound of fast and caustic riffing, with it's positioning in the foreground of the mix combined with the incessant drum-beating of S. Lucas, mark only a subtle change from "The Mercian Sphere", a record which placed great emphasis on installing all riffs with such a terrific sense of scale and positivity that it seemed hardly possible to be a record so rooted in black metal. Casual listens to "The Fate of Souls After Death", "A Thousand Winters" and the title-track on this new one will show said vastness and scale in true glory, as the long songs of Winterfylleth’s forte wind between folk-influenced interludes to. Variation may not seem great at first between these tracks but when the pace drops, as in "The Swart Raven", or C. Naughton’s vocal howling ceases for a period as in "A Memorial" then the rhythmic riffs take on a classical dimension, resembling how an orchestra manages to sound so much larger than the sum of it's stringed parts.

Aside from a couple of short interludes the pace is hammering and fast, yet, unusually for a record so steeped in the black metal sound, still so wholesomely positive in vibe. Singing songs of historical pride and British heritage (while carefully never stepping into nationalistic territory) Winterfylleth keep an upbeat feel to proceedings which can only serve well to entice in potential listeners who understandably find the standard nihilistic and Satanic stance of BM a touch uncomfortable. Not quite on the plain of "The Mercian Sphere" but a record to be cherished nonetheless.

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