WINDFAERER_TenebrosumDespite operating out of a state best known for metrosexual men wearing fake tans and engaging in post-modern mating dances for sultry females, Windfaerer prizes the mythology of the Iberian Peninsula and pays homage to such ancestry. Tenebrosum is derived from the Latin for “darkness” and with Spanish song titles, they certainly target a higher-brow audience than the aforementioned gentlemen. As Windfaerer‘s sophomore full-length, it delivers the blackened folk metal already established in their repertoire, but with greater diversity on display this time around. I thoroughly enjoyed 2012’s EP Solar, and was hoping for a continuation of form.

The greatest stylistic differentiation from Solar is the more overt death influences. Tenebrosum still largely derives its extremity from black metal, but the opening to “Finisterra” strongly recalls In Flames with a simply awesome dual-guitar transition from 1:33. “Morir en el Olvido” sounds similarly drawn from Gothenburg in the 90’s. The opening to “Tales Told in Oblivion” could have been lifted from any number of modern death metal bands, mid-paced and strong in percussion by comparison to the band’s blackened roots. Indeed, the passage from 1:40 in “The Outer Darkness” bears the mentality, density and dissonance typical of the new wave of extreme music fronted by such bands as Ulcerate and Altar of Plagues.

Reinforcing their folk influences however, Tenebrosum has borrowed Ne Obliviscaris‘s violist, Tim. While their prior work sporadically utilizes backing strings, the violin undertakes a lot of melodic heavy-lifting here, soaring over chugging rhythms and harmonizing effectively on such tracks as “Santería” and “The Everlasting.” The second half of “The Everlasting” is one of the strongest passages on the record, with powerful trem-picked riffing transitioning into a beautiful harmony with the best violin melody.

Despite these multiple sounds at work, Tenebrosum feels cohesive. The song-writing circumnavigates repetition by undergoing breakdowns just as singular sections may be wearing thin, re-energizing towards authoritative conclusions. This simplistic yet compelling structure is notable on “Celestial Supremacy” and “Finisterra.” The overall pacing is spot-on too, opening with an indicator of Windfaerer‘s core style in “Celestial Supremacy,” diversifying with the more deathy material, returning to blackened folk around the mid-point, then closing with the interestingly different “The Outer Darkness.” Not enough can be said for the satisfaction to be found in complete albums, especially since Tenebrosum is an ideal 48 minutes in length.

Windfaerer_2

However, there is one aspect which really pulls the record down: the production. While the DR score of 7 may not seem terrible, it sounds way worse than this. Individual guitar tracks do not have sufficient breathing room as lines cross and intricacies are lost on all but the most committed listener. Guitar and vocal leads don’t pop and I barely noticed the percussive work on first listen since it’s so buried. Extending listening sessions can be wearisome which lets down the excellent song-writing towards the end of the album. On a more subjective note, I also prefer the production aesthetic utilized on Solar, which is closer to traditional black metal. While not super old-school, it bore ‘buzzier’ guitar tones, whereas I feel like the modern approach to the guitars and drums here contributes to the fatiguing aspect of the music.

As I grow further into metal and I begin to recognize styles which suit me best, I’m becoming increasingly aware that I fall right into Windfaerer‘s target demographic. Tenebrosum fuses blackened extremity with folky subtlety into a very compelling package which I can thoroughly recommend to any fan of black metal, transcending New Jersey’s tool-infested shores. The production comes as a significant caveat and ensures that this isn’t my favorite Windfaerer release, but the prospect of a return to Solar‘s dynamics with Tenebrosum‘s diversity excites me for the future.


Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320kbps MP3
Label: Unsigned
Websites: windfaerer.com/ | Facebook.com/Windfaerer
Releases Worldwide: September 22th 2015

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  • BranMakMorn

    “AltAr of Plagues” :P

    Sounds pretty interesting to me, thanks for the review!

    • El_Cuervo

      No prob. But if that was a dig at the spelling, my spelling is correct

  • Levly

    Excellent review, made me interested in the band and I enjoy the posted track. But you’re totally right about the production, what a stupid way to bring down a record that could be really stellar…

  • RuySan

    Aren’t the Jersey Shore individuals Italian descendants, and not Spanish?

    I’m quite offended, and i’m not even Spanish

    • El_Cuervo

      I simplified it for the sake of the review, but the Iberian Peninsula technically crosses Spain, Portugal, Italy, Andorra and Gibraltar. It’s just that its largest section is in Spain. The song titles and themes therefore technically cross borders.

      • madhare

        Whaaaaat? In my understanding the Iberian Peninsula does not contain any part of Italy. Iberia name was given by Greeks/Romans (i.e. “Italians”) to designate what then was “Hispania” and today mostly Spain and Portugal, and I guess bits of France.

      • RuySan

        Italy in the Iberian Peninsula? What are you? American?

        • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

          Of course Italy is in the Iberian Peninsula, right there with all the other Mexicans!

          • ¡AYAYAYAYAY, CARAMBA!

          • basenjibrian

            Do the tanned metrosexuals hand out in Cancun, I have heard?

      • Iberian Peninsula doesn’t include Italy, my friend. Nor even technically. The other countries you pointed are included on it; and you can add the south zone of France :)

    • I didn’t even realize what he’d done. I just assumed he was complementing guys from Jersey for not being douchebags. Cuervo! Racism! How could you! But I will forgive you because they are in fact from Jersey and thus do not pump their own gas, which, as we all know, makes them lesser mortals.

  • BranMakMorn

    Actually, since I’ve already been a dick by pointing out the typo, I want to make a general critical observation, not limited to this review but to us critics and fans as a whole. Aren’t we a bit too loose, or generous, in using the tag “folk metal” ? “Folk” is admittedly a pretty loose genre but it has some musical defining traits (such as, but I am no expert, the use of the pentatonic scale, or perhaps certain tempos) which are more precise than the use of “folk instruments”. It seems that many a band feels that it is enough to have a bit of acoustic guitar and perhaps some strings and voila, the “folk” vibe is achieved. Or am I wrong?

    • El_Cuervo

      No typo here! I don’t disagree, but it nonetheless evokes a folky feel and it’s how the term is used more widely within metal publications.

      • BranMakMorn

        I know, I know, I wasn’t criticizing your usage, but that of the industry as a whole. I think it detracts from those rare bands who actually do put effort into fusing folk structures with a metal approach, that’s all.

    • Oberon

      The use of non traditional musical instruments, especially in a metal band. Instruments like the tin whistle, banjo, hurdy gurdy, and accordion are a quick way to get my attention

      • Pimpolho

        Say hurdy gurdy 4 times without laughing

        • Pagliacci is Kvlt

          Donovan already did it.

          • Pimpolho

            He’s a beast, i can’t listen to mellow yellow or HGM (almost HMG…) without laughing.

  • Lasse Momme

    I fucking love that embedded track Cuervo, these are going straight on my radar.

  • Thatguy

    Thanks for the great review. I like the sound of this.

    Is this ‘folk metal’? I think it is, and it is the jaunty rhythm that makes it so for me. I don’t always like jaunty, but this track pulls it off.

  • I do love the sample song, It’s got some killer lyrics aswell, fuckin frost!