Winterhorde - Maestro
ViciSolum Productions
Melodic Black Metal
11 songs (65' 11")
Release year: 2016
Reviewed by Andy

Just like they did with the last album, Winterhorde waited another six years before releasing this one, but I believe fans will consider it worth the wait. Heavy on the clean vocals, this work could be considered a nightmare at the symphony, complete with howling female opera background vocals and a smoothly sophisticated violin to accompany the black metal.

What is it about Israeli groups and epic complexity? I'm reminded of fellow countrymen Orphaned Land (if they did black metal, that is), not only in the large lineup but also in the Eastern folk music department. Antipath serves as a good icebreaker, being not only large enough to effectively carry both the blastbeats and the symphonic background, but also the disconcerting amount of clean vocals they put on top of it. Worms of Souls, an uneasy combination of classical elements, is a more bombastic and untraditional piece, but The Heart of Coryphee takes this much further. Sparkling acoustic guitar passages give way to an almost chanted duel of clean and harsh vocals that alternate quiet, keyboard-driven restraint with furious speed driven by Maor Netz's drum work.

The more introspective songs, like the title track, though, show even more masterly restraint. Rather than leaning too hard on Carach Angren-style theatrics, or overbalancing with attempts at Nordic coldness, Winterhorde charts their own path by ensuring the subservience of the music to the mood they want to invoke with each song and throwing in whatever they feel appropriate to do so (including jazzy saxophone bits, which do make an appearance in a few places). Finally, we get one of the finest efforts on the album: Dancing in Flames. This consists of a twin-guitar waltz combined with the keyboards, all mingled with more of the band's female opera and the best riffing on the album.

Maestro is the sort of album that Ancient Rites and Carach Angren fans would equally eat up. I normally have simpler tastes in terms of the black metal I listen to, but there's no denying the expertise that went into this -- even if it took six years.

Bandcamp: http://winterhorde.bandcamp.com/album/maestro.

Killing Songs :
Worms of Souls, The Heart of Coryphee, Maestro, Dancing in Flames
Andy quoted 82 / 100
Alex quoted 92 / 100
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