Review Summary: A changing of the seasons
A decade into their career, The Hallowing of Heirdom
is the biggest turning point for Winterfylleth’s sound thus far. They’ve always stood out for mountainous riffs, but this time they’ve completely dropped all black metal aggression in exchange for a colorful acoustic folk album. Although it’s a method that could have gone one way or the other, it works tremendously well for them. The Hallowing of Heirdom
plays out like the changing of seasons: gentle strings and guitars are manipulated into glowing horizons and shifting winds. There are no harsh vocals on The Hallowing of Heirdom
either. Instead, ancient chanting and more traditional folk singing are dispersed throughout the album’s massive backdrop of instrumentals. The scenery is often held together by nothing but acoustic guitars, but the playing and timing is everything – something Winterfylleth have down pat here.
Throughout The Hallowing of Heirdom
are classical influences that add depth to the acoustic passages, and it’s impressive how naturally these touches are thrown into the mix. All the album’s majestic nature comes gushing out with force in the massive, 7-minute closing title track. Beginning and ending with rain pouring across the landscape, it’s a testament to how effective and organic Winterfylleth’s music can sound given more room to breathe. Although acoustic tracks and interludes have always been scattered throughout the band’s discography, they’ve never been fleshed out like they are here. Whereas in the past these moments have often lacked character, the band’s unwavering focus here has resulted in a thing of unmistakable beauty.
The Hallowing of Heirdom
, despite dialing down the gigantic riffs, is full of variety and color. “Frithgeard” is already a large departure from the lengthy, chant-driven opening of “The Shepard”. It’s dripping with sadness, evoking the feeling of walking through a once-thriving, but now dead civilization. Each track does a brilliant job creating massive soundscapes and lush scenery, at times even reaching theatrical levels. The conclusion of “Aecerbot” is one of the album’s loudest moments; it’s a track that has apocalyptic movie soundtrack written all over it. On “Embers” you can hear the crackling of a fire – the sound of each spark tossed from the scorching pit. The band’s delicate attention to detail pays off here, igniting a believable and enticing atmosphere throughout each track.
Entirely abandoning black metal and harsh vocals, The Hallowing of Heirdom
manages to be one of the most scenic, memorable settings in Winterfylleth’s decade-long journey. It’s an album that allows you to soak in the vast hills and streams around you – the fresh scent of soil beneath your every step. I quite honestly pegged Winterfylleth as a bit of a one-trick pony – their stronghold being giant walls of passionate black metal – but The Hallowing of Heirdom
puts this notion to rest entirely. It’s given me a whole new appreciation for the band. Here we have an album that relies on restraint rather than intensity, yet often feels more stirring and epic than some of the band’s heaviest cuts. It’s a sound Winterfylleth were born to make.