Monday, September 5, 2011

Winterdemons - The Darkest Storm (2006)

Another cult of corpse painted and tainted deviants hanging out in the local, misty woods might not rank high on the 'to do' list of the general public, but in the sphere of underground black metal, it seems a tradition that will never cease and desist. Winterdemons are a decidedly derivative group that have paid more attention to the happenings in Scandinavian regions than the local Hellenic scene, and sadly by the middle of the 21st century this was the case for the vast majority of their countrymen. That doesn't make The Darkest Storm bad by any means. It's a decent enough, entertaining debut for at least a short duration, but it's highly unlikely to retain the listener's thoughts for anything beyond a laugh or three.

Aesthetically and artistically, The Darkest Storm feels as if a random group of black metal song and album titles were mashed up and delivered a la carte, along with the riffing and vocals. Yet vocalist/guitarist Goulthor is competent on both fronts: his rasp a delectable, impish drawl that decays over the burgeoning, raw berth of the rhythms; his riffs melding the traditional surge of straight, hammering chords with a layer of decadent melodies ("Cold Heart"). Certain of the tracks feel 'icier' than the others, like "Eternal Cold Will Blow" and "The Darkest Storm" itself, with Emperor and Immortal-like guitars, so the band does attempt to live up to its wintry theme, slightly if not wholly out of place for central Macedonia. However, despite the presence of a few half-baked, amusing pieces like "Kill the Whores of Satan", with its simple but textured depravities, I found that the majority of the note patterns here were as predictable as my monthly cell phone payments.

Winterdemons have done a fair job of getting their album mixed in a clear, consistent tone which feels earthen and organic, as if it were being performed flawlessly clean while you sat on a couch in the rehearsal room. However, such atmosphere doesn't exactly lend itself well to the band's frigid lyrical schema, and I very often desired a little ambiance to flow off the riffing, even in the form of keyboards to spice up what are otherwise very straightforward and typical pieces for the medium. Those into baseline replicants of Mayhem, Bathory, Darkthrone and the like probably won't have too much of a problem here, as the various components of the band fit well enough into the puzzle that you never become too bored or offended. Sadly, there is just no defining characteristic of the band to separate it from the hordes of sound-a-likes, nor does the band write at the level that they can compete or transcend their influences. If you like your black metal rustic and reasonably produced, with no unique characteristics, then it's not a bad way to kill 40 minutes; but apparently even the band themselves weren't that impressed, as they only released this one album before splitting.

Verdict: Indifference [6.5/10]

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