Sound — 8
English black metal, eh? It's not completely off the map, but if you hear EBM', you're far more likely to assume it to mean experimental black metal, electronic black metal or...elephant black metal. Don't believe that last one exists? Decide for yourself. I'll give you a minute to try and digest that little gem; it'll make this album sound all the sweeter. It's surprising that Anglo-Saxon history and culture hasn't saturated black and folk metal when Celts and Norsemen get countless songs dedicated to them every month. Winterfylleth, then, join Forefather as the country's only other significant purveyors of this sort of black metal. Luckily, as soon as the distortion's on, the folklore is out of the driver's seat after all, King Alfred was pretty handy with a sword but I doubt he'd have been able to pop a Renault Clio into first gear. This is black metal focused in a way that so many atmospheric' bands can't even fathom, but the mix gives it the space to set it apart from more traditional, aggressive outfits. The sublime guitar tone plays a huge part in this, emphasising the simple beauty of a few well selected, tremolo picked notes. Each riff has a sense of forward motion; there are glances over the shoulder but the band never truly look back once each section has gone through its immediate repetition. Risky business for a 70 minute album, but the ideas are kept fresh by, among other things, a couple of absolutely gorgeous acoustic pieces; Children Of The Stones' in particular sounds like a celebration of the English landscape, its figurative distance from modern society reflected with a twinge of sorrow.
Lyrics — 8
The fact that this particular ancient culture hasn't been done to death by metal bands makes this record easier to pay attention to, and presumably instils in the band a greater pride in what they're doing. They do dip their toes in other bits of ancient European history, I know that much, but unfortunately no lyrics have been published as of the time of writing so I can make no comment such is the nature of most extreme metal reviews I do. Chris Naughton's vocals blend into the sound - and, in some abstract way, the aesthetic of the artwork convincingly but only occasionally shine in their own right. Over blasts, his Glorior Belli-esque snarls become ever more aggressive but the vocal lines you're more likely to remember from the hour-and-a-bit of The Mercian Sphere' are the melodic chants, which appear occasionally to spice up the folksy side of things.
Overall Impression — 9
Winterfylleth seem to be brimming with confidence, and why shouldn't they be? Picked up by Candlelight, thrown into the greater metal consciousness by Candlelight and now they're doing the rounds with a second quality album to show for themselves. Never during this album do you get the feeling that they were unsure of where to go, or whether an idea was any good they do their jobs with too much passion and black metal know-how to worry about such things! In a style (and country) where all too many bands get lost in their own creativity or pretence, this self-assurance is impressive. And for the record, the middle of this album, from Children Of The Stones' through To Find Solace...Where Security Stands', is one of the best half hours you'll spend with a British metal album this year. You should feel proud if you're fortunate enough to be among their countrymen.