Originally released in 1993, God Macabre's The Winterlong belongs to the first wave of Swedish death metal. While among the pioneers of the Swedish death metal scene, God Macabre never made it as big as bands like Carnage or Entombed, and this is their only full-length.
Somewhat of a death metal gem, it was recently reissued on Relapse Records, which I think is great, because younger generations of fans who were not around in the 90s can now enjoy it like the death metal kids of the 90s did. Being early Swedish death metal, The Winterlong is more in the vein of the Stockholm sound than the more melodic Gothenburg sound that would later become synonymous with the term 'Swedish metal'. This means that we are dealing with more aggressive and dirty death metal with elements of crust, as heard in 'Into Nowhere' and 'Lost' as well as the Obituary-inspired 'Spawn of Flesh'. That being said, God Macabre definitely took their music in a slightly different direction from their peers, incorporating doom metal into their sound, brilliantly exemplified by 'Teardrops' in its entirety – a veritable death-doom feast, as well as several intros and bridges in other songs on the album. 'Ashes of Mourning Life' even goes as far as experimenting with Southern grooves and bluesy guitar solos.
The production on this reissue is pretty good, and, while many of God Macabre's peers opted for a dirty and crunchy sound, The Winterlong sounds very clean – but not polished – which actually works surprisingly well. Musically, we are primarily dealing with aggressive and, at times, primitive death metal full of old school elements. However, in the doom-laden sections, the Swedes show that they master that metal genre as well, often infusing more melody into their sound than you might expect from a Swedish death metal band from the early 90s.
The Winterlong is a brilliant death metal album, capturing the grittiness of the Stockholm death metal sound and combining it brilliantly with doom metal, to a point where – I have to say – the album is slightly superior to Autopsy's classic Mental Funeral. Fans of old school death metal should definitely invest in this brilliant reissue.
1. Into Nowhere
4. Ashes of Mourning Life
5. Spawn of Flesh
7. In Grief
8. Life's Verge
9. Consumed by Darkness
10. Ceased to Be
11. Spawn of Flesh