Catamenia's melodic style of Black Metal, very reminiscent of bands like Emperor, is put out on the world in all its glory on their sixth album, Winternight Tragedies. Apart from its weak beginning in Heart of Darkness, it quickly picks up pace and leaves the listener aurally seduced by melodic guitars, viking chants, and banshee-like shrieks. There are really no boring tracks on this album (with the exception of Heart of Darkness), and quite a few really memorable pieces. For anyone new to the spectacular genre called Black Metal, Catamenia is a great (and rather unknown) place to start from.
However, despite this being an absolutely grand effort at making Black Metal more listenable, catchy, and infused with Folk influences, I can find a few things to complain about. The keyboards are just sort of...there. They don't really contribute to the sound of the band except add a rather atmospheric sound to the music. There are really no boring tracks on the album, per se, but while there are a few REALLY good songs, the rest of the album leaves the listener wanting something more. These filler tracks are rather uninspired and, while they aren't a complete waste of time, they aren't that great.
Now for a quick track by track.
Heart of Darkness - 2.5/5
I found this track to be rather annoying and repetitive. It's not god-awful, per se, but Catamenia could've invested in a better intro to their album. If they had switchted the order of this song with Verikansa, they would've set the listener up for a severe kick in the face when popping this album into the CD player.
Verikansa - 5/5
Probably the 2nd best track on the album, and filled with Catamenia's signature chants. If you're into any competitive sports, or if you're about to beat the living hell out of someone, listen to this first. Nothing quite pumps one up like the sound of shrieks and viking chants.
Strength and Honor - 3.5/5
It starts out slow, but eventually picks up into a furious track that *almost* made me want to pick up my viking axe and pillage my dorm room. Almost. Not by any means a bad track, but one of the aforementioned fillers that is eclipsed by the better tracks of the album.
The Crystal Stream - 4/5
A very melodic track, and perhaps the only one where the keyboards come into play. The mimic the lead guitar's lines in this one throughout most of the song. Nothing particularly spectacular about this one, but it's still a solid listen.
Kaamos Warrior - 3/5
My 2nd to least favorite on the album. It sounds like a half-assed Crystal Stream, and is generally uninspired. The keyboards can get annoying, seeing as they stick to one or two atmospheric notes throughout the whole of the song.
My Blood Stained Path - 4.5/5
One of the truly excellent songs on the album, and their most advertised. However, it deserves the hype the band gives it. This is a stellar track with addictive riffs that changes its general sound several times before it ends. If only Catamenia made every track as good as this one.
Perintoe Pohjolan - 5/5
So what if it's wholly in a foreign language? This song is amazing. This is the best example of Catamenia's riffing throughout the entire album, and I was humming the melody (since I couldn't understand the words) for almost an entire day.
Iced Over - 5/5
My personal favorite song of the album; it takes the utter excellence of the previous track and translates it into English (and adds a clean chorus). It also features some of the most awkwardly pleasing drum fills and passionate vocals I've heard in a long time. In addition, the intro riff is ridiculously catchy.
The Ancient - 4/5
In my humble opinion, this track should've been switched with Iced Over, since it doesn't exactly make a killer ending. It is a very solid track nonetheless, and I still find myself listening to it quite a bit. The chorus vocals are extremely well done, and Olli's shrieks shine through.
Fuel For Hatred (Satyricon cover) - 4.5/5
Anyone into Black Metal has heard of Satyricon, seeing as they were one of the older pioneers of the genre. This version of the song Fuel For Hatred (from the album Volcano) is almost as good as the original, and is a very good effort by Catamenia, seeing as it's not the easiest song to pull off with the same ferocious anger as Satyricon did it.
To wrap things up, this is an extremely good album, but could use a little more variety and originality in the songs, and could ditch a few of the fillers. This album has some genuinely great songs on it, and perhaps with a little bit more time and effort put in Catamenia could've made a classic out of it. I'm looking forward to their next album, Location: Cold, to be sure.
Overall - 4/5