Review Summary: Melody and speed combine together to create what is arguably the best album in Satanic Warmaster’s arsenal.
When a black metal fan thinks of Satanic Warmaster, they probably think of the 2005 fan favorite album, Carelian Satanist Madness
. With it’s haunting atmosphere and strong musicianship, it solidified who Satanic Warmaster was and made them a force to be reckoned with. After over a decade of this same style, band mastermind Warwulf decided to change things up with the release of Fimbulwinter
. The changes this album made may have lost a few die-hard fans, but it also made new ones.
Perhaps the most important aspect of Fimbulwinter
is it’s guitarwork. While still keeping true to the black metal sound, Werwolf upped the tempo and added in much more melody than on previous releases and, as a result, the rawness of earlier releases has mostly gone away. While this could have been a problem, the quality of riffing replacing it is a more than acceptable atonement. Werwolf took charge of all songwriting for Fimbulwinter
but had session guitarist Nattravn to help with guitar duties. Thankfully, both guitarists know their way around their instrument exceptionally well. Backing up the exceptional guitar playing are keyboards, jointly handled by Warwulf and Nattravn. Present on every track, their addition to the music can’t be understated. The guitars may take charge of the album, but on songs like “Funeral Wolves” and “Dargon’s Egg” the atmosphere is greatly heightened by the use of the keyboards.
Rather than play drums himself, Werwolf decided to bring back Vholm, who previously performed the drums on Carelian Satanist Madness
, to handle all drumming on Fimbulwinter
. Although it may not be as noteworthy as the guitar playing, the drumming never falters and supports the other instruments throughout the duration of the album. Then there is the basswork which adds depth and density to the album. Due to the cleaner production on the album, the bass can be easily heard which is a welcome and uncommon addition to a black metal album. . Rounding out the album are Werwolf’s vocals. As usual, his raspy screams are powerful and show that Werwolf puts a lot of effort into his music. As an added benefit, the vocals sound less forced and more natural compared to other Warmaster albums.
As previously mentioned, the production on Fimbulwinter
is excellent as Werwolf chose to use a more modern approach to the production compared to his earlier work. Due to this, each note being played by the guitars can be clearly heard. Even though the production far exceeds what older albums had, that’s not to say that the guitars sound clean. A suitable amount of static and fuzz has been added to the guitars, keeping the glacial black metal atmosphere alive. The drum production is equally clean and allows the listener to hear all the drumwork without it drowning out any of the other instruments in the mix.. With the change in style that happened on this album, a better production job was needed.
In a genre as steadfast and unwavering as black metal, deciding to change your style can either be a disastrous move or a beginning of a new era. Luckily, Satanic Warmaster falls into the latter category. Fimbulwinter
is a worthy progression for Satanic Warmaster, that I highly recommended. If melodic black metal is something you enjoy, then few choices as worthy as Fimbulwinter