Old Wainds is a fairly obscure Russian black metal group formed in 1995, and Where the Snows Are Never Gone was their second demo release. This 1997 demo has seen quite a few re-releases over the years, but I will be reviewing the 2011 reissue for Negative Existence. As far as I can tell, this reissue doesn't feature a re-mastered sound or any bonus tracks, but more or less serves as a way of bringing this underground classic to the masses. Hopefully fans of old school black metal will take a look into this forgotten gem - it's certainly worth a listen for Russian black metal collectors.
The music played here is fairy standard for early-to-mid nineties old school black metal. Expect punishing riffs, unrelenting heaviness, and ice-cold atmospheres on this one. Of course, as standard for much black metal of this time, the production also leaves a bit to be desired. If you're fine with a filthy and unclear sound, this may be a good thing for you - I just know that it's not conveyed convincingly enough to impress me. The songwriting is also a bit sub-par; only a few tracks are truly memorable, and even they are far from perfect. I enjoy the more melodic sections in "Winter Warriors" and "Cold Mourning of the Pale Moon", but the rest of the album often gets lost in a monotonous wall of sound. This demo may take even more listens for me to "fully understand", but as of now I think it lacks in memorable compositions and variation.
Where the Snows Are Never Gone can be considered a "cult classic" of sorts, and possibly with this recent reissue it may reach a wider audience. I'm not left too impressed, but there certainly is appeal here. If you can get past the weak production and often monotonous atmosphere, there's plenty to love on Where the Snows Are Never Gone. The most I can give here is 2.5 stars. I'm curious to hear if Old Wainds improved upon this formula on their future releases - this is a promising, if generally unconvincing, effort.
1. Unholy Nordland Fire
2. Winter Warriors
3. Gods Gazing From Beyond
4. Eternal Wanderer of Winter Nights
5. Where the Snows Are Never Gone...
6. At the Gates of Frosty Mountains
7. Guardians of the Icy Kingdom
8. Cold Mourning of the Pale Moon