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Wolfheart: Winterborn

First released in 2013, Winterborn is the debut album from Wolfheart, with this Spinefarm Records reissue finding a further two bonus cuts added to the original nine. Consisting solely of Tuomas Saukkonen, Wolfheart was initially most notable for it being the band Saukkonen decided to fully concentrate on after disbanding his hugely popular Before The Dawn, The Final Harvest, Black Sun Aeon, RoutaSielu and Dawn Of Solace projects. It was a bold move and one that surprised and disappointed many, due to their liking for the many other outlets Saukkonen had. What also surprised many (although I'm not really sure why), was that Winterborn didn't see a musical rebirth for this master of the black metal scene; instead similar themes to especially Black Sun Aeon and Before The Dawn abound, as a keenly crafted clash of clean and extreme hit headlong into a twisting turn of atmospheres and attacks.

Seldom as full on and uncompromising as many in the black scene, Wolfheart extol the virtues of infusing melody into the darkness and drama to the melancholy. Other than a few lead guitar slots Saukkonon handles every detail on this album and it's a testimony to his skills that things never slide into self congratulatory indulgence, or single minded short sightedness. Instead the scope is broad, even when the attack is sometimes narrow and focused; stinging lead guitar lines used to lift the gloom and bring a veil of darkness in equal and effective measure. Some of the material does cry out for a clean voice to drive home the change of moods and at times the vocals can feel a little restricted in this setting. It's not as though they are bad by any stretch of the imagination, yet sometimes the aggression would hit harder if it was surrounded by a little more vocal light and shade. From the original nine tracks on show, the kick blasts and lilting melody of "Gale Of Winter" and relentless grind of "I" make a strong mark, while "Chasm" possibly binds the light and dark sides of Winteborn together most effectively.

The two bonus cuts offer value, "Isolation" every bit as dank and oppressive as its name suggests, although not in the brow beating manner you might expect. Instead strings and keyboards build a scene not experienced on the main album, while "Into The Wild" closes things out more in keeping with the main album. Some may be disappointed that Saukkonen has moved his focus to only one project. However with Wolfheart his many followers can relax safe in the knowledge that the end results are almost as captivating and memorable as they could have hoped for.

Track Listing
1. The Hunt
2. Strength and Valour
3. Routa pt.2
4. Gale Of Winter
5. Whiteout
6. Ghosts of Karelia
7. I
8. Chasm
9. Breathe
10. Isolation
11. Into The Wild

Added: April 12th 2015
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Wolfheart on Facebook
Hits: 970
Language: english

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