Winterfylleth sweep back with trademark atmospheric black metal on ‘The Dark Hereafter’

winterfyllethI’ll avoid the expected and obvious way to say this based on modern pop culture, but the winter months will be here soon in North America. The evenings already are noticeably losing their light as the days go on, and mornings are starting to arrive with a chill in the air. It’s the perfect time for black metal, as well as countless servings of dark beers.

It’s also the ideal setting for the arrival of new music from English black metal band Winterfylleth, whose new record “The Dark Hereafter” is more of the good stuff. The band doesn’t travel too far away from the boot-caked icy trails they’ve walked for years, and anyone who is a fan of their music dating back to the beginning should feel warm and welcome with these five new tracks. If there’s one alteration, most of the songs are a bit shorter and to the point. Also, we’re served about half as many songs as we’ve come to expect on what’s the band’s shortest record to date at a little under 41 minutes. But that’s not a bad thing, necessarily. It’s a succinct, tight record that makes its point and gets out. There’s something to be said for not overfeeding, and you won’t leave this feeling overly full.

winterfylleth-coverWinterfylleth, whose name translates from Old English into Winter Full Moon, which represents the first full moon of October, have been making atmospheric black metal infused with boatloads of melody for nearly a decade now. The band—guitarist/vocalist Chris Naughton, new guitarist Dan Capp, bassist Nick Wallwork, and drummer Simon Lucas—first shook hearts on their excellent 2009 debut “The Ghost of Heritage,” released by Profound Lore. Their 2010 offering “The Mercian Sphere” saw the band move to Candlelight Records, and that was followed by “The Threnody of Triumph” in 2012 and “The Divination of Antiquity” in 2014. Two years later, we’re greeted “The Dark Hereafter,” a record that keeps adding fuel to the band’s English history-centered violence.

The title track opens the record, with the song erupting in a fury immediately, melodies lapping over everything, and the growls rumbling. The track has an epic feel, which is not exactly a surprise for a Winterfylleth song, and from there the darkness overflows before bursting with life on the back end before fading away. “The Pariah’s Path” is treated with thick melodies and swirling playing, with Naughton’s passionate cries pounding inside your chest. The playing is infectious and spirited, with riffs spilling all over the place, a clean calm emerging temporarily, and the band picking up with deep “oh-oh-oh” bellowing as the song disappears into the fog. “Ensigns of Victory” is built on strong riffs as the song launches forward. Melodies sweep everything in its path, while every element cascades gloriously, and the band continues to pound away. Wild cries and hammering riffs combust, as the song comes to its final resting place.

“Green Cathedral” is the longest cut on the record as 13:03, and it is inspired by a concept by author Ben Myers (Turning Blue) that the natural and rural world can be a more spiritually enriching place than any religion. Well, those things sure as shit inspire far less hatred and violence. The track begins with an eerie soundscape spreading as the music turns to a gothy flow. As the song begins to open up with power, acoustics blend into the mix, and the track heads in a mid-paced march. Moody soloing arrives, which the tempo changes up, and synth begins to stretch over like a cloud. As the song reaches its final minutes, it hits into full bore again, with wrenching cries and a solemn reading lingering over the last notes. Closer “Led Astray in the Forest Dark” has drums crumbling, riffs cutting in, and one real surprise in the emergence of clean singing. Naughton’s voice sounds almost liturgical at times, calling, “No one remembers me,” as the electricity blends with acoustic passages, and a lightning storm of soloing arrives and ends the song on a blood-pumping high.

Winterfylleth have been one of the most consistent bands in black metal both in sound and work ethic, hitting back every two years without fail. “The Dark Hereafter” serves to further solidify their catalog and to provide a record that’s a little easier to digest with each listen. Their music is set for seasons like the ones on which we are about to embark, and this record will make a fine companion on freezing days and endlessly darkened nights.

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