Northwind Wolves
Mountains and Darkness

Waaaaay back in 2017, California’s Northwind Wolves released their aptly named debut, Dark…Cold…Grim, a superb and authentic delivery of 90s symphonic black metal that made my year end list. Well, as expected for a second album, the follow up delivers the same sound, expands on it a little, but never quite reaches the dark cold grim levels of the debut.

The influence remains early Dimmu Borgir and Emperor, but Noor and co have expanded their sound a little especially in the keyboards which sound bigger and fuller, with a lot more layers and a lot more going on, but still have a classic air of sweeping 90s nostalgia. Also, the song writing seems to be a bit busier and more adventurous.

The production appears to have bolstered and beefed up as the band grows from the debut, but the 90s aura is still there. The songs are all solid and each one delivers plenty of sweeping, dark majesty. Notably the likes of “Ludmilla the Witch”, the short but sweet (and epic) title track, somber “A Knight Called Death” and frosty bite of closer “Curse of Ages”.

That all said, this one isn’t grabbing me as instantly as the debut, despite all its 90s symphonic bluster. The production is a bit overdone and the keys, while still very bombastic, seem less epic and purely 90s styled as the band tries to evolve a little from pure 90s nostalgia, which is understandable. Still, these guys are clearly one of the better North American acts playing the style and I look forward to what developments they take moving forward.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by E. Thomas
January 6th, 2020

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