Review Summary: Sadness just got a lot more fun
It is the that time of the year again, where the geese fly south, the leaves wither away and the doom metal is ripe for the listening. Here to satisfy those bleak, desolate, sorrow filled cravings you masochists die for is the all too appropriate band Winter. Releasing only one album in their short career, the band released to the world in very limited supply: a cd containing destruction, grooves and yes of course, bleakness. It is only in 2011 to the rejoicing of fans accredited that the album was reissued for the world to hear.
For doom metal there are a select few directions to take the music, some take the path of the Candlemass and create epic, heavy metal worshipping soundscapes while others take the emotionally appealing approach of bands such as Warning and create desolate music. A trend in recent ages has seen a lot of bands run with the traditions doom metal and especially sludge, to incorporate the music into their sound and flare it up with rocking attitude such as Torche. While Into Darkness is very much a gloomy album, it can just as easily be argued that it incorporates a much more ambitious focus than its fellow colleagues.
In order to create their bleak atmosphere the band does not tone down their instrumentation in terms of songwriting. Instead Winter have found a golden sweet spot to balance the two together to be able to provide the best of both worlds and it pays off handsomely. The playing throughout Into Darkness is very tight and every member of the band not only gets to shine but work with the others as a brilliant unit to deliver the goods. While the music may be very sluggish and harsh, it doesn’t find the problem of repetition through its drawn out earth shattering riffs that most bands do in the genre. The rhythm guitar is a very important component for the band as it lies at the forefront of the mix, dishing out fat and ringing riffs that encompass the entire soundscape. While the rhythm guitar sets the tone, the reverb heavy lead guitar works its way through the distorted atmosphere and provides some interesting twists. Convincing settings and scenes are often cast up by the instrumentation as they slowly burn and fade into madness twisting throughout the vile riffs and plodding along to the beat of furious drum work and crescendos.
What really makes the environment so convincing is the excellent production. The production suits this stylistic approach perfectly and accentuates all of the band’s strengths to deliver well played performances that provide atmosphere, diversity and breathing room for a few tricks here and there. The way the band works together is always engaging due to the tight musicianship. Lead and rhythm guitar interchange between quick spurts of rocking out into crushing madness and back again without misstep. The drum work manages to capture the sadness of the dark times, and the zaniness of the groovy sections at full force with consistently satisfying beats per minute.
Into The Darkness is a superb album because it dares to be diverse and forward thinking in a genre where stagnancy is encouraged. This band however proves that stagnancy is not the only way to create a bleak, intense experience.