Winterhorde
Maestro

So here is yet more symphonic, keyboard drenched metal adding to this year’s plethora of quality orchestra and keyboard filled releases, they cover all genres. This time it’s in the form of the third album from Israel’s 7 piece act, Winterhorde, and it resides in a sort of melodic, symphonic black metal, but with expansive, progressive and ambitious boundaries that cover any and all bases between the likes of Opeth, Dimmu Borgir, Edge of Sanity, Carach Angren and country mates Orphaned Land (without the Middle Eastern, Ethnic backdrop).

Where as the prior album, Underwatermoon, covered a more aquatic, seafaring concept, this one covers, well…. a Maestro and his dealing with a Satanic/demonic orchestra and its inevitable repercussions. The music conveys the theme well, telling a melodramatic story with epic, theatrical aplomb and musical influences from a vast array of genres. You name it, it’s here: black metal, death  metal, thrash metal, gothic metal, progressive metal, baroque, classical, all with the matching vocal arrangements to boot from deep growls, blackened shrieks, female vocals, clean male vocals and everything in between. Fear not though, this isn’t not unhinged chaotic melding of styles like say Maladie, but a more controlled Dan Swano project sounding effort that delivers a superb end result.

Track by track descriptions are hard on a deep, hour plus concept album with a host of guest musicians such as this, but after the intro “Antipath” seems  to be a pretty solid indicator of the albums overarching style and delivery. That said there are standout moments littered throughout the album pomp and circumstance. “Worms of Soul” has a nice haunting choir and a more foreboding, menacing vibe, “They Came With Eyes of Fire” delivers blackened seething start before a more restrained, expansive, storytelling track with plenty of clean croons to move the story along.

“Chronic Death” starts as a more burly death metal track, showing that Winterhorde can bring a little aggression to the mix when they choose and the eleven minute “The Heart of Coryphee” show the band’s more rangy, expansive side. However, this about the point in the  album where I feel I have heard everything and don’t have the desire to see how the story and album intimately end.  At 65 minutes, It simply wears on, no matter how interesting the concept and music. The following short instrumental, “A Dying Swan” seems to be a perfect end point. But instead, there is another 20+ minutes, including the somber title track and a mostly Kenny G lounge core, Saxophone laced ballad in “Cold”.

Still, in all a pretty entertaining, varied and ambitious album from a Middle Eastern band that does not hit you over the head with ethnicity but instead, a creativity and skill that is commendable.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
August 19th, 2016

Comments

  1. Commented by: Nick Taxidermy

    reminds me a little of solo Ihsahn or the final Emperor album.


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