Review Summary: Winterhorde completely shatter expectations
Something happened to Israel’s Winterhorde in the four years since their last 2006 album, Nebula
. Because as of right now, we’re not really dealing with the same melodic black metal band anymore – we’re dealing with a band that has expanded and evolved its sound to unprecedented heights, unexpectedly birthing one of 2010’s finest metal releases in the process.
In total, Winterhorde’s Underwatermoon
is a melting-pot of extreme metal styles, blending the symphonic, melodic black, and progressive subgenres for a slightly Middle-Eastern-tinged product so diversified yet collective in its length that it rivals Orphaned Land
's Carriers of Dust
for the ownership of the throne of extreme-metal combination.
Winterhorde do this over the course of Underwatermoon
’s playing time by intertwining a concept based off a story about a Spanish gypsy and a foreign transit sailor with the band’s varied instrumental sections. Clean and harsh vocals are present throughout the album’s narrative, often switching on a dime from a smooth transitional singing section from vocalist Horeph or a guest female part, to suddenly letting loose with the lead singer’s screams, sometimes in conjunction with that of the other band members for added harmony.
Instrumentally, Winterhorde flow seamlessly through Underwatermoon
as a collective unit, using each of their members’ diverse histories in music to make the album’s varied sections work surprisingly well as a whole. The riffing and soloing from guitarists Barakk and Lex is strong and memorable, making the heavy sections such as the opening of “Wreckages Ghost” or the frantic-speed guitar solo jaunts of the nine-minute “The Curse of Gypsy” moments that will sync up with listeners' minds on their second time through the album, as well as indirectly highlight by contrast the duo’s acoustic interludes that show up often on Underwatermoon
It wouldn’t be wrong to say that Winderhorde do what symphonic black metal band Carach Angren
did earlier this year on their sophomore album, Death Came Through A Phantom Ship
, only do it much better. Unlike the prior, the band is adept at keeping the story-concept serious in its representation on Underwatermoon
, while making sure that the clean vocal sections, female and/or male, don’t disrupt the album’s excellent flow. This is a vital point, as what makes the album work as well as it does is found in how its contents seamlessly work together throughout its length, all to come to a triumphant and satisfying close with the light, delicate acoustics of finale "Farewell".
Now, considering that Underwatermoon
is an extreme metal release containing many-things extreme metal, you have to admit that this is very impressive. Winterhorde even make sure that each of the subgenres that they utilize has equal weight in the album’s equation. Symphonic strings are present, and so are progressive-winding song structures, but the music stays equally melodic black metal at its core, too, even when taking the clean vocals into consideration.
is obviously not an album for everyone, though, especially if extreme metal blends like Mabool
or Carriers of Dust
may be off-putting to you. However, the album does contain a little bit of something for everyone, and it’s most likely that with its use in conjunction with the rest of the Winterhorde’s influences, you’ll soon come to appreciate much of what the band has to offer on their sophomore release. Underwatermoon
is an album that represents a band that’s surpassed expectations to become a powerful force in Israel’s metal scene, unexpectedly creating one of the best metal releases of 2010.