Review Summary: Winterfylleth’s return to furor is a triumph.
The rather sensual nuance of the band’s last installment showcased a bit of a left turn for a band known for fusing tremolo leads and scathing vocal lines, but The Hallowing of Heirdom
’s contrast was a much needed development in Winterfylleth’s rather ‘paint-by-numbers’ sound. In swapping the band’s “it’s not broke, don’t fix it” soundscapes with a display of mostly gentle and warm, expansive acoustic folk, Winterfylleth could explore a new range of sounds for something more filling to a casual listener. This detachment from the group’s typical black metal scene gave Winterfylleth some room to creatively breathe. Now, as The Reckoning Dawn
moves Winterfylleth back into familiar territory, the band’s signature soundscape now caters to a pleasant rupturing of aggressive black metal nuance and the group’s occasional acoustic climes. The Reckoning Dawn
instead dismisses the restraint of the previous record and in turn, provides modern black metal regality.
On the basis of identifying what kind of record The Reckoning Dawn
is, its opening piece “Misdeeds Of Faith” comes rushing out of the gates at full tilt, contrasting completely with Winterfylleth’s lush acoustic noise found on the last record. This track not only defines the new record’s sound direction, but allows for some of the more gentle embraces of ...Heirdom
to seep through the punishing riff progressions, blast beats and raspy snarls in the form of choral vocal passages (something that’s been present for well over a decade) and light melody. It’s core however, is steeped in black metal’s icy beginnings—like a modern day love-child of Emperor and Darkthrone... while Agalloch films the conception. “A Hostile Fate: The Wayfarer, Pt. 4” in comparison takes a slightly more introspective approach compared to the opener. Ungentle tremolo melodies surge under mountainous riffs and Mark Deeks’ ever-present snarls, but the longer track time allows for the album’s atmosphere to come into play; mixing these introspective frantic moments with lighter hopeful moods at which Winterfylleth excel. Admittedly, parts of Winterfylleth’s newest record may blur and blend between tracks. There is a wall of sound here that’s only broken by the album’s more obvious dynamic shifts, but there’s subtlety here that goes deeper than a casual first listen.
As the gentle acoustic melodies and light string work of “Absolved in Fire’s” introduction come into play, it’s clear that ...Heirdom
is gone, but not entirely forgotten. Sure, the sensual clean tones only present themselves at the beginning of the song’s composition, but it’s a retrospective contrast that reinforces the breathing room found in the prior release, before blending into the band’s signature use of black metal aesthetic—not unlike the ever present bass and percussive foundations to which the album is built. The track’s main groove lunges to the front of the mix, but not to the point of overbearing. In this fashion the listener can appreciate Dan Capp and Christopher Naughton’s dynamic rhythmic chops and the ensuing guitar melodies without missing out on the ever-present atmosphere. Despite falling just
short of a ten-minute run time, the track itself underlines the Winterfylleth’s natural penchant for grandiosity. Whether it’s the soaring melodies that highlight the title track that feeds off the song’s first half of pummeling, sinister overtones, or the composition's second half which switches to massive, uplifting moments of hope—everything here is tilted to a display of grandeur, capitalizing on the very framework that came before it. It’s clear that The Reckoning Dawn
is no small feat within itself. Even the bridging piece, “Betwixt Two Crowns” uses pensive, yet warm acoustic twangs which lay the foundation for “Yielding the March Law’s” sonic barrage, showcasing the band’s talent for combining even the most contrasting of elements to full effect. The track itself borders on minimal inclusions, yet remains as large as the track’s that sit adjacent to it.
The final moments found in “In Darkness Begotten” lay waste to the band’s folk sounds. As a statement piece, The Reckoning Dawn
finishes how it began, creating a natural feeling of completion as it does so. Bold riffs continue to press onto the listener filled with the unbridled aggression that’s defined black metal as a genre since its inception. “In Darkness Begotten'' slowly unwinds into a sombre reflection of Winterfylleth’s craft, embellishing the closing atmosphere in delightfully adept string work and lush, often isolating synth. As a whole, Winterfylleth’s The Reckoning Dawn
is a sprawling, captivating journey of sounds that brings parts of their last record into the band’s widening grip of black metal. Comparisons will be made to the group’s albums pre-The Hallowing of Heirdom
, but the added weight of lofty folk sounds allows this year’s effort to stand above them all. Winterfylleth aren’t in the business of fixing their not-broken soundscapes, but they are certainly adding a more diverse depth to their music while remaining incredibly consistent to the band’s musical brand. Most of all, The Reckoning Dawn
is a balanced, accessible, well-thought record that bridges the band’s back catalogue with its more modern emphasis on folk.