Winterfylleth The Divination Of Antiquity 01The way the English media tends to hype up their musicians is simultaneously cute and annoying. Whether it’s an indie rock group or, in this case, a black metal act, they never fail to hail almost every other band as “the next big thing.” Manchester’s black-metal-meets-paganism-and-folk quartet Winterfylleth had the luck (or misfortune) of being one such band. Cherished from their debut throughout their following two albums, the media set the expectations high, very high. And the band succeeded, for the most part, as they are commonly regarded to be one of the best current bands in their respective genre. Undeserved praise? Yes and no.

The truth is that Winterfylleth are a good band. Not stellar, not the best, but good. Their new release, The Divination of Antiquity, is a straight continuation of their previous efforts. It’s also a better album than The Threnody of Triumph from 2012. But no tectonic shifts occurred between the two releases and the band presents us with more of the same somber, English folk infused black metal. Not a bad thing in itself, of course.

Ester SegarraThe problem lies elsewhere; in the wear that can be felt in the songwriting, the déjà vu that the sound of some of the riffs bring forth. In reality, there are many similar, creative bands out there today and Winterfylleth, I’m afraid, fail to differentiate themselves. While listening to their music, it becomes hard not to think of bands such as Falkenbach, Primordial or Drudkh, to name just a few. It’s all been done before and often done better. Maybe that’s too harsh of an assessment since there’s strong material on this record and very nice moments scattered throughout the eight songs.

The tunes can be sorted into two groups based on subtle alternations in style. On one hand, there are faster and aggressive straightforward black metal tracks, accentuated by lots of tremolos, such “The Divination of Antiquity” and “Warrior Herd.” On the other, a richer and fuller sound rules the music and emphasizes doom-like moods and riffs on tracks like “A Careworm Heart” or “Whisper the Elements.” It’s on these maudlin songs that the band sometimes finds itself on the wrong side of the divide between the kitschy and the tastefully emotional.

It also feels as if the folk influences are less pronounced on this album. These elements are pushed in the background, becoming part of a constantly present source of inspiration, and only show themselves in full light on the acoustic “The World Ahead” or within some wonderful, surprising harmonies such as the ones on “Over Borderlands” and “Foundations of Ash.” It’s these moments and surprises that make Winterfylleth a better band. A nicely incorporated “pagan” chant or a wistful, beautiful melody which will make you feel like you’re standing on an edge of an enormous cliff, watching the ocean break against the rocks. Or something else, picturesque like that.

Ester SegarraThe second part of the album feels better thought out and features standouts such as “Over Borderlands” and the atmospheric and well-rounded “Forsaken in Stone.” All in all, the album feels a smidgen too long and the tracks a bit too repetitive, especially if we consider the bonus track “Pariah’s Path” that appears on some releases. It also seems they like try too hard to be epic, as if the themes and lyrics of the songs (paganism, British heritage, etc.) weren’t epic enough. The technical side of the record doesn’t disappoint. The sound is good, no lo-finess that could usually be attributed to black metal, but most acts stopped sounding lo-fi some time ago anyway. The only downside of the production is that the guitars carrying the harmonies and the super fast tremolos are sometimes pushed into the background and sound muffled, more like atmosphere-creating tools rather than proper, dominant electric guitars. The musicianship? Nothing stands out, but neither is anything out of place: the drumming, the guitars, the vocals, everything is up to scratch.

Not much has changed since Angry Metal Guy reviewed The Mercian Sphere. He would still find Winterfylleth boring. But the truth is that within the context of pagan/folk black metal, they have released another noteworthy, good album. In the broader scope of things, there have been and will be better metal albums this year.


Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 192 kbps mp3
Label: Candlelight Records
Websites: WinterfyllethOfficial | Facebook.com/Winterfylleth
Release Dates: EU: 2014.10.06 | NA: 10.14.2014

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  • Feytalist

    I am surprised at myself at how much I was looking forward to this album. I really just want another Winterfylleth album (which – it seems in the review – is basically what we’re getting anyway). And, if one is as enamored of this style as I am, that’s pretty much good enough.

    Hype is overhyped anyway. I like to think that in the metal camp, we tend to ignore media attention and simply concentrate on the music itself. That’s the dream, in any case.

    Now if only Wodensthrone would step up and make some more music.

    • Feytalist

      Okay, now that I’ve given the album a few listens, I completely agree with the review. There is so little that stands out here. A shame.

      Saor’s new release is better in almost every single way.

  • Rich Schwiing Bendall

    It seems that this is a sort of continuing disagreement I have with AMG. AMG has introduced me to some great music and I respect the opinions etc.

    Personally I am one such fan who thinks Winterfylleth are genuinely becoming one of the most consistently brilliant bands in Black Metal atm. Personally I find that their lyrics and melodies just convey emotions that I actually genuinely feel. I feel a connection with the themes that I just can’t feel with bands like Primordial or Enslaved due to their celebration of their own heritage. As much as I like listening to Grutle Kjellson grumbling in old norse I have no personal connection to it whereas Winterfylleth manage to convey something about England and their own heritage.

    This is a theme which I feel in England is often ignored and demonized as being some form of EDL/BNP style racism when in fact its just a people taking pride in their history in the same way that a lot of benign Norwegian bands did in the 90’s (as well as their more political counterparts etc).

    • Jean-Luc Ricard

      I’m with AMG on Winterfylleth – some good stuff but hardly stellar, and occasionally boring. But I’ll certainly give this new one a listen to see if it can stir my loins.

      Speaking of heritage, it’s interesting how different people relate to their countries’ pasts. I always assumed people related to the Viking stuff because Vikings are fucking metal rather than because they felt a particular connection with their Scandinavian heritage. Winterfylleth sing about Anglo-Saxon history and myths – a time when the concept of nationality was utterly different from now and Englishness wasn’t even a thing. It’s really interesting history, but I can’t say I can relate to it any more than I can to any other country’s history from that era.

      I find it odd to take pride in this history, too – why be proud of an era when the majority of the population were slaves to feudalism and led bloody, brutish, short lives? Of course it’s important to learn about the history, and it makes for great metal lyrics, but I’ve never really got the pride thing. If it speaks to you and improves your experience of the music then that’s obviously kewl, but I’m sort of curious as to why…

  • sui

    I actually agree with the review. While I enjoy some songs off the album, it’s a bit difficult to sit through the whole album without zoning out. But I probably will give it a 3.

  • Here’s Johnny

    Another fine album. Some fantastic melodic riffs, great songwriting.They don’t sound that similar to Primordial at all, i have never found that when listening to them. I think its wrong to say they are just ‘good’, they definitely have something a bit special about them.

    This is an album to listen to at night and let it wash over you. This type of music is repetitive and makes you feel zoned out, that’s the whole point!