Review Summary: And the riffs will fall into Lake Michigan, and all will be slain.
They’ve only been around a few years, but they already have a record deal and a lineup which seems to be stable for the time being. And they’re also one of the few bands from Michigan playing black metal. In an industry that’s finally starting to gain some ground in the United States, their decision not to become one of the dimes a dozen has proven to be a successful formula for the band this far. However, it’s always slightly worrying when you read that a band is going for a do-it-yourself approach as far as input and production; you never know if it’ll be produced well enough, or if the sound they’re going for will be successfully conveyed to their target audience. Luckily for Winterus, they’re fully aware of the sound they wish to achieve on record and create a successful atmosphere in the process.
It’s important to stress that the drums and guitar are at the forefront of this album. Every symbol hit is audible and all the riffs are easily distinguishable. The real difference maker of the album is held in the feeling behind the riffs; there’s an immense display of emotion within them that set the ominous and dark tones of the album. A lot of the album’s power is generated by the vocals, which are strong and display a great range with excellent delivery. The vocalist also has the ability to create both a talented high screech and low growl. They are also mixed fairly well within the context of the album. There are a few moments (most notably in the portions with a more “spoken word” approach) where it’s somewhat difficult to hear all of the details within the vocals, but it never brings down their quality or distracts the listener. However, it’s best to forget about the bass because there isn’t a note to be heard, which can be attributed to the dominance of treble over bass in the production.
The album’s structure can be broken up into three pieces: songs with vocals, instrumentals, and live recordings. There happens to be an equal amount of each adding up to the album’s nine tracks. The instrumental tracks probably work the best; there’s an absolutely great abundance of emotional and catchy riffs, which take a lot of influence from both Wolves In The Throne Room and Agalloch. And the drumming is nothing but quality. Unlike many black metal bands there’s a lot of variety within the drummer’s style, and there’s never an instance where repetition becomes an issue. Live tracks can be hit or miss with any band when they’re released onto record, but here they fit extremely well with the sound the group is trying to get across to the audience. They’re a bit muddier when compared to the rest of the album, but it’s not problematic in the slightest. Also, they clearly display that the band can perform live without any hitches. And in this industry it’s incredibly important to show you can do well regardless of the location. While the album is not an entirely cohesive piece, it showcases the talent of the band both in the studio and on the stage.