The Divination of Antiquity

One of the things that makes black metal so interesting as a genre is it unique ability to capture the essence of a particular place and use the listeners imagination to take them there. Winterfylleth is a band that has always made good use of their English surroundings for inspiration and do so again on their fourth album The Divination of Antiquity. More than most bands as well, they’ve also always managed to pick cover art that strongly captures the mood of their albums. Where the imagery was a little murkier on the first two records, they streamlined their sound and look on 2012’s, The Threnody of Triumph, which adeptly captured the richness and color of the English countryside.

(Bonus points to anyone who knows what “threnody” means without looking at a dictionary.)

Winterfylleth pick right up where they left off with an album that further refines their sound without making any dramatic leaps. They manage to be urgent and weighty without being heavy in the traditional sense. Blast beats and double bass drums roll underneath waves of rich tremolo picked guitar chords and earthy melodies that carry the weight of centuries, hitting the listener with introspection rather than violence.

The clear skies, mountain peaks, and cool waters of the cover art quite clearly convey the atmosphere of the record. After a solid opening in the title track, they really show what they’re capable of on “Whisper of the Elements”. Just before a minute into the song they break into a dramatic section that displays them at their best, with dynamic yet simple emotive riffing laying the groundwork for shimmering melodies that are as striking yet restrained. There’s a remarkably rich acoustic bridge in the middle, which leads to a triumphant sounding build up. Toss in some slightly Bathory-esque choir vocals in the background, and you have what might be the most beautiful metal song you’ll hear this year.

“A Careworn Heart” slows things down and shows that while the band has a solid core of elements to their sound, their strength is their subtlety. The song has the speed of leisurely hike through dense woods, and melodies peak through the dense canopy of guitar strumming like rays of light peaking through to the forest floor, eventually opening up to expansive hillside views.   The band manages to take you on a journey without extreme ups and downs, but always a few curves in the road that keeps things moving with a palpable sense of momentum.

Various branches of nuance and texture extending from a strong core aesthetic is the theme that carries itself through the rest of the album. “Foundations of Ash” adds a touch of vitriol, and Dawn-like epicness to the proceedings. “The World Ahead” is a nice folky acoustic interlude. “Over Borderlands” is another huge, lush, epic that begs you to close your eyes and let yourself be taken away.   “Forsaken in Stone” is a strong closing number adding just a hint of doom underneath jangling chords that ringing out over the top.   Winterfylleth always manage to get you to the same vast landscape they’re aiming for, but like an expert tour guide know how to show you all little attractions just off the beaten path of their sound that makes what could be an okay trip a glorious one you’ll want to revisit again and again.

If you’re a fan of black metal along the lines of Drudkh, Wodensthrone, or Wolves in the Throne Room, this is a band and album you don’t want to miss and should definitely find a place in some top ten lists come years end.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Dan Wrathburn
December 22nd, 2014


  1. Commented by: Guilliame

    Like this band a lot but their music doesn’t remind me of England. Sounds like straight up Nordic Melodic Black Metal,IMO. Otherwise, very nice review.

  2. Commented by: Dan Wrathburn

    Thanks for the feedback. I might admittedly be a little biased on my view of England. About 9 years ago I went there with my family for a week and half and we spent the whole time in the countryside going to ruined castles, walking through the morning fogs, and going to places like Stonehenge, Avebury, and other stone circles. Away from the cities the landscape there is amazing.

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