Winterfylleth - The Reckoning Dawn
Candlelight Records
Atmospheric Black Metal
8 songs (57:02)
Release year: 2020
Winterfylleth, Candlelight Records
Reviewed by Goat

Manchester, England's own Winterfylleth have been delving their Anglo-Saxon path for over a decade now, and have been gradually improving along the way. Too easy at times to pigeonhole as a b-tier version of Drudkh, the decision by the band to sidestep on 2018's The Harrowing of Heirdom and make a purely acoustic folk record clearly acted as a chance to reset and rethink, as The Reckoning Dawn is the first truly great album that the band have produced. It is still very conservative musically, based around the usual Winterfylleth formula of tremolo melodic riffing, blastbeats, and screamed vocals, but the songwriting is refined to the point where this lacks the monotonous feel of some of their earlier work. Some would have gone completely leftfield rather than this sort of 'back to business' album, throwing in all kinds of experimental bells and whistles, and although that can often be effective, Winterfylleth wisely rejected that approach. The band are very good at a very specific sound and have accordingly built on that rather than change things up - refining their sound rather than revolutionising it.

And the results are compelling. Opener Misdeeds of Faith is blunt and immediately heavy, the riffing aggressive rather than wistful, and the task of atmosphere as much given to those clean male backing chorus as the guitars. It's as close to earlier Enslaved as Drudkh, although it retains the airy melodicism of the Ukrainians, particularly in the song's latter section. Things return to usual on the oddly infectious A Hostile Fate (The Wayfarer pt 4), although some genuinely epic riffing brings Summoning to mind as the song soars away majestically without compromising on the heaviness. And the beautiful acoustic guitar and violin introduction to the following Absolved in Fire sets up the ensuing plunge into torrential black metal perfectly, a bit of later layered chugging a good contrast to the widdly leads. Winterfylleth prove themselves to have an ear for a good, solid hook! Throughout the album, songs are notably more distinct and memorable than on previous albums, even down to the melodies themselves - the guitar lead which drives part of the title track could have been written by Iron Maiden themselves. Speaking of London's finest, they popped up again in spirit with the proggy meandering partway through A Greatness Undone, touches of symphonic splendour elsewhere in the track giving it extra spinechilling impact.

It would be easy to criticise Winterfylleth for still being repetitive in style - you admittedly need a real love of black metal to really want to delve into an album like this. Sole interlude piece Betwixt Two Crowns is a very necessary bit of neofolk, heavy on the plucking, inserted to give a breather between A Greatness Undone and Yielding the March Law, the latter one of the album's lesser pieces. Yet it is ridiculous to criticise a heritage black metal band for playing heritage black metal, and even though said Yielding the March Law isn't among the album highlights it is still a wonderful, vibrant example of the genre in its own right, hypnotic and mournful. There's not a truly weak track, and the progression of the album makes it an engaging listen, finishing with the acoustic-backed wordless singing that sees out In Darkness Begotten with more violin. A terrific album, quite possibly Winterfylleth's best yet.

Killing Songs :
Absolved in Fire, The Reckoning Dawn, A Greatness Undone
Goat quoted 85 / 100
Other albums by Winterfylleth that we have reviewed:
Winterfylleth - The Dark Hereafter reviewed by Andy and quoted 84 / 100
Winterfylleth - The Divination of Antiquity reviewed by Jared and quoted 85 / 100
Winterfylleth - The Threnody of Triumph reviewed by Goat and quoted 72 / 100
Winterfylleth - The Mercian Sphere reviewed by Kyle and quoted 90 / 100
Winterfylleth - The Ghost Of Heritage reviewed by James and quoted 86 / 100
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