Review Summary: Poor production makes an otherwise decent album lose a bit of it's appeal, but there is still lots of good black metal to hear here.
If you know Moonblood, then you know that the sound quality on their albums can be terrible at times. By Moonblood standards this album has quite standard production, not abnormally bad or good, though the average metal fan will probably be immediately be put off by the production and the mixing of instruments. The problem with Moonblood is that all their releases are either tapes or vinyl, meaning almost everyone has rips of these formats (the originals are extremely hard to find anywhere). The ripping process makes the poor sound quality even more enhanced. I should also mention, for anyone interested in this band and searching them on eBay, *do not buy compact disc format releases of Moonblood, they are bootlegs*.
That being said, The Winter Falls Over The Land seems to be one of the more commonly listened to Moonblood releases. I would like to point out that one should not start with this bands rehearsal tapes, but rather with the two full lengths. The reason being that Moonbloods earlier years are marked by extremely amateur sounding recording quality. This release is almost definitely recorded in a home studio, and not mixed or mastered at all. The vocals are very high in the mix, guitars are extremely grainy and trebly, and drums sound pretty dull and flat, their tone is pretty well described as "dead". bass is completely inaudible, and keyboards can be heard at times, and when they are used it is not difficult to hear them in the mix.
So, as you might guess this album doesn't sound very professional, since there is also a sloppy sound to the drums and guitars (which I personally don't mind, since the music sounds more organic and less strict than if it was recorded perfectly on time or as MIDI). Many will however dislike these qualities, so if bad production turns you off, then don't bother reading the rest of the review, I can assure you that you'll be bored by this, or have an earache.
So why listen to this? Mainly because there are some great parts that don't really come to their full potential. The use of synth in Nightly Mass is a great touch, and there are some great arpeggio guitar riffs (a Moonblood trademark style). Vocals are also pretty well performed, because even while they are muffled they have an aggressive edge to them and fit nicely into the "dirty" production of this tape. The drumming is also not bad, even though the snare pretty much overpowers the cymbals, toms, and bass drum. There are plenty of breaks, not a lot of repetition (which would definitely become monotonous). By that I mean that one riff isn't repeated too many times in a row, though riffs often reappear numerous times in songs.
Assuming you can handle the production, you can actually somewhat appreciate the general sound too. it sounds distant and remote, which somehow fits with the band, since there isn't really much known about the members, lyrics, and even how many releases the band out before breaking up in 2000. The music reminds of the old days when bands like Azhubham Haani were still active and recording their first demos at home. This is definitely rooted in the late 80s/early 90s sound, though the thrashy elements are all but gone, and have been replaced with a more rudimentary guitar style. The release itself isn't too long, clocking in at half an hour this is easy to listen to wholly, you don't have to sit through an hour of terrible produced monotous music, there is plenty enough variation to keep you listening through the whole CD. You might already be familiar with one of the songs, The Gates of Eternity, covered by Nargaroth on Black Metal Ist Krieg.
-Some good riffing
-Atmosphere is definitely present
-Good to bang your head to
-The instrument balance in the mix isn't optimal