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Winterfylleth: The Mercian Sphere

Black metal is known for its arcane, inaccessible nature. Although difficult to define, it's easy to identify. With its tortured vocals, lo-fi production, extreme minimalism, and grinding tremolo picking, listeners are quickly divided into a dichotomy of love versus hate. That being said, Winterfylleth's latest effort is certainly black metal - in fact, the album bleeds "kvlt" - yet it differs greatly from the stereotypes of the genre. Simply put, The Mercian Sphere should not be.

The Mercian Sphere is a unique black metal release crafted under no false pretense it's not trying to be anything that it isn't. This truth bleeds through the album, as they infuse traditional, brutal black metal with occasional major chord progressions, catchy beats, and epic riffs. At the album's apex of intensity, Winterfylleth keeps up with the most aggressive black metal acts, with fierce blast beats, vehement screams, and evil guitar riffs. However, they match this intensity with diligent songwriting, as exemplified in "The Honour of Good Men On the Path to Eternal Glory", in which a central theme is develops through several minutes of repressed fierceness.

On the other side of the spectrum, however, The Mercian Sphere features several hauntingly serene instrumentals, which are arguably the album's strongest point. "Children of the Stones", for example, effectively cycles through a vast array of emotions through laid-back acoustic finger-picking and sombre bowed string instruments, vaguely reminiscent of Opeth. Winterfylleth manages to take this sombre tone and genuinely apply it to the entire album, from solemn to extreme.

Although divergent from the genre's stereotypes, it is arguable that The Mercian Sphere epitomizes the black metal ideology. Yes, it's divergent from popular culture. Yes, in some ways, it's divergent from traditional black metal. However, unlike many extreme acts today, it is not nonconforming for the sake of nonconformity. It is what it is. For that reason, The Mercian Sphere is an incredibly emotionally impacting release which is sure to shake the foundations of modern black metal.

Track Listing
1. Gateway To The Dark Peak The Solitary One Waits For Grace (The Wayfarer Pt I)
2. Awakens He, Bereft of Kinsmen (The Wayfarer Pt II)
3. The Fields Of Reckoning
4. Children Of The Stones
5. The Ruin
6. The Honour Of Good Men On The Path To Eternal Glory
7. To Find Solace, Where Security Stands (The Wayfarer Pt III)
8. When The Woods Were Young
9. A Valley Thick With Oaks
10. Defending The Realm

Added: September 5th 2010
Reviewer: Tim Kaetzel
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 1760
Language: english

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