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Tuesday, March 18, 2014
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Lower Silesian Stronghold, one of the strongest upcoming Black Metal labels from Poland, make me happy once again by giving me the opportunity to listen (and, by consequence, to review; but it’s my pleasure!) to Winterfront’s debut full length album, released two and a half years after the independently released EP Of Iron And Blood. Two tracks of that mini-album, by the way, have been re-recorded for this full album. It gets released in an edition of 1,000 copies in co-operation with another highly interesting Polish label, Werewolf Promotion (which originally started as a tape-only label; still now most releases are on cassette, with several CD-releases as well in mean time).

Northwinds was recorded by vocalist / lyricist / guitarist Toni ‘Terrt’ Jakuš, drummer Marin ‘Hell’ Pjanić, lead guitar player / composer / co-lyricist Ivan ‘Sorr’ Grga, and bass player Marko ‘Mutillator’ Tabak. The recording sessions took place at StarOne Studio with Petar Bešlić (who did the recording, mastering and mixing at the very end of 2012; indeed, it took a while, apparently, before this stuff got finally officially released). Petar, for your information, performs as guest with a solo on the title track, in case you might be interested. This said…

The album lasts for thirty four minutes and opens with a riff based on Chopin’s classic Funeral March (how original…) (opening song’s title, by the way: Frozen Throne), a theme that returns at the end of the song. This track, and that goes, as a matter of fact, for the whole album, is raw and primitive, somewhat simplistic and traditional, with a slightly epic undertone, which might explain the ‘Pagan’-label this band gets. The highly melodic tracks come with a Thrash-laden edge and a focus on melody, rather than on blasphemous rawness or noisy extremity. The compositions do vary a lot from each other, although they all come with a characteristic performance. The sound is rough but maybe one might find it little under-produced – which I cannot fully disagree with, to be honest. But it does not bother. My main problem is the inelaborate song writing and plain performance, which has nothing, but really nothing additional to add, anything that might differentiate Winterfront from the vast majority. Northland is not a bad album (I am not to give them a negative score), but let’s be honest, it’s a missed opportunity based on superficiality and mediocrity.