Review Summary: A perfect album. It's beautiful, sad, melodic, crushing, and hateful.
Vinterland is a relatively unknown Swedish Melodic Black Metal band, being together for just 6 years, releasing this single, solitary album for the world to hear. I can't tell you how they managed to do it, but what I can tell you is that Vinterland released probably the best Melodic Black Metal album ever, easily rivaling "Storm Of The Light's Bane". You just have to seclude yourself, let this disc spin, and it is a somber, haunting adventure. Think "Storm Of The Light's Bane". It's an album almost every Black Metal fan has listened to, it's seen as the pinnacle of Dissection's career and the best Melodic Black Metal album ever recorded. Think of that, then imagine darker, sadder, more melancholic riffs and vocals with such fury and hate in them that they sound like the voice of a tortured prisoner. Think of furious double bass kicks and interlocked harmonies with that echoing cry racing across a misty forest. Think of it as a melancholic serenade of pain, death, and suffering. This is Vinterland, this is their world, this is pure emotion, this is one of the best Black Metal albums I have ever heard.
Soft acoustics playing a haunting melody introduce you to the band, before a high screech kicks in the instruments, with the guitars playing a fast, heavy riff in front of the pounding double bass. It's almost too much to take for the first 30 seconds of the opening track. "Our Dawn Of Glory" is unrelenting, pulling you in with no remorse. The vocals are normal Black Metal, nothing extra special, but they suit the intense, pummeling riffs (you'll know what I mean when you hear this). The vocals remind me a lot of Emperor, which is nothing a Black Metal fan will complain about. Don't think the Melodic part of this is drowned out by the amazing heaviness of this. The riffs are much, much darker and more brooding than Dissection, while still managing to be captivating and just so sad, Vinterland really throws their entire soul into this album, and it really shows. They even throw in acoustic guitars under the already amazing layers of the electric guitars, drums, and bass, a technique I've never seen before. The songs are headbanging material, and the riffs in songs like "Our Dawn Of Glory", "A Castle So Crystal Clear", and "As I Behold The Dying Sun" are so epic and pounding you have no choice but to smile and realize you are hearing songwriting genius at work.
The drumming is also very well executed, and it shows. Double Bass is used almost constantly, and to great effect, as it just highlights the heaviness Vinterland is performing here. Also with the drumming comes my single, solitary negative about this album. I'm being picky with this one, but the drums are a bit under-produced. The double bass isn't thundering so much as it is tapping. The double bass effect would melt with the music so much better if the drums had that thundering effect, but maybe I'm being too picky here. Amidst all this chaos is pure beauty. The only instrumental, the amazing piano piece of "So Far Beyond...(The Great Vast Forest)" is a wonder of piano playing. The notes come together to form a brooding, somber atmosphere with ominous voices in the background, letting you know that you're only three songs into this monster. Also, as mentioned before, the calming effect of acoustic guitar is often heard under the crushing electric guitars, showing a hint of peace alongside the furious riffs.
I can't say there is a bad track on this whole album, no song gets boring even for a second. From the crushing opener "Our Dawn Of Glory", to the fantastic, epic closer "Wings Of Sorrow", this is a masterpiece of musicianship and songwriting ability. I hold this album very close to my core because it is probably my personal favorite Black Metal album of all time, and one just so impacting you have to hear it yourself to believe it. Whether you pick this up off the internet or on eBay as I did, I can guarantee you 100% you will not be disappointed.