Review Summary: Winterfylleth deliver a great musical journey with their new release "The Mercian Sphere", and also deliver one of the best metal albums of 2010.4 of 4 thought this review was well written
In my opinion, Black Metal is the genre most capable of taking you out of reality and placing you in foreign lands, be it a dark forest, a snowy mountain, or an epic battlefield where you fight valiantly among your Viking brethren. One thing all of these places usually have in common is a sense of dread and darkness that only black metal can bring you. So it came as a shock to me after listening to Winterfylleth’s new release, that I came away with a sense of, dare I say it, being uplifted. Instead of feeling as if I was on the verge of a painful (usually awesome) death, I got a real sense of pride from this album, pride for one’s nation and self.
“The Mercian Sphere” is a dark album, don’t get me wrong. But not dark in the way you might expect a black metal album to be. Even when the band is touching on the topic of death lyrically, it is touched upon with a sense of nobility and simply reaching a final destination. Musically I didn’t find this album to be produced in the typical black metal fashion. Everything is very clear and all instruments are fairly even in the mix, I didn’t get a sense of lo-fi at all in this recording. All of the musicians are very talented and have put to tape some of the best melodies and riffs I have heard within the genre. The drums are also a major highlight, switching patterns over the same riff and single-handedly taking the feel of the song in a whole new direction. The vocals are great as well, displaying the classic tortured screams we all love, but the clean and group vocals are what give this album its personality. They usually make their appearance at the end of a song, and are put to especially good use at the ends of “The Honor of Good Men on the Path to Eternal glory” and the final track “Defending the Realm”.
For me, melody is the most important piece of the puzzle for my black metal, and I think that is why this album hit me so perfectly. This band knows exactly when to bring in the lead guitar for a tremolo picked melody over the rhythm, and it’s usually done to mind blowing effect. Take the ending of “To Find Solace…Where Security Stands” for instance; just when you think it couldn’t get any better, the lead guitar comes in for an incredible melody to close out one of my new favorite black metal songs of all time.
Another great aspect of this album is just how dynamic it is, there is a huge folk influence to be found on this album and it makes most folk metal bands look sub-par. The instrumental “Children of the Stones” is entirely acoustic, featuring an uplifting guitar line that puts you in a warm field on a summer day, but still takes steps in its melody that give it a real sense of seriousness and further shows that this album was created to be a journey. The dynamics will be made clear to you after playing this from beginning to end and realizing just how many different moods and techniques you just heard, it really is a great experience.
“The Mercian Sphere” is easily in my top ten releases of 2010. It seems to be flying a bit under the radar as of late, which is disappointing because it more than deserves to be held up high with any other great release of the year. If you’re a fan of black metal at all, you owe it to yourself to take this journey that Winterfylleth has provided for you.