ALBUM REVIEW: The Dark Hereafter – Winterfylleth

The UK black metal scene has exploded in the last couple of years, with new and exciting prospects emerging around the British Isles. Manchester’s WINTERFYLLETH have been at the forefront of the UK black metal scene for nearly a decade now and now, 2016 sees the release of album number five, The Dark Hereafter. Does this new offering from WINTERFYLLETH continue the band’s dominance of the UK black metal scene?

The album opens with the title track. The shortest track on the record clocking in at just over four minutes, The Dark Hereafter roars into life in an instant through the signature black metal guitar work of Chris Naughton and Dan Capp. Driven by the blast-beats of Simon Lucas, the pace is at top-gear but not overdone to throw the listener. The hooks of the riffs are infectious and Chris Naughton‘s vocals are not lost in the dizzying mix.

From here, things become more varied. Pariah’s Path opens atmospherically, with subdued guitar notes and the occasional hit of the drums. The atmosphere here is enormous as the track slowly unfolds into a whirlwind as Chris Naughton unleashing another excellent vocal delivery of shrieks and growls. It’s difficult not to be swept away in the madness. Moments of melody through quaint guitar notes are a nice touch and despite the track being a Goliath at around nine minutes, there are rarely moments where it feels strained or repetitive. The latter half of this track in particular is a highlight as WINTERFYLLETH increase the atmosphere; the guitar-play varies in rhythm whilst Simon Lucas‘ drumming maintains a steady speed. The result? A listening experience that raises the hairs on the back of your neck.

Ensigns of Victory was the first glimpse fans had into The Dark Hereafter and the single holds up well. The track is an emotional roller-coaster, with the combination of Dan Capp and Chris Naughton‘s guitar work driving home emotions of sorrow whilst Nick Wallwork‘s bass tones are subtle enough to not detract from the listening experience. The track is yet another example of WINTERFYLLETH excelling with their sound, by now the band have found their formula and Ensigns of Victory firmly stamps that throughout the track’s duration.

Green Cathedral is the longest track on The Dark Hereafter, weighing in at a colossal 13 minutes, this track really showcases the broad range of musical qualities at the band’s disposal. Atmospheric and droning sounds from Mark Deek‘s keyboard brings the track into life before fading into the background as isolated guitar-play takes centre-stage. It’s chilling, utterly moving and reflects what WINTERFYLLETH are all about; atmosphere. Unlike many other black metal bands, Green Cathedral dazzles you with atmosphere and creative musicianship, rather than pummel you into oblivion with blast-beats. As the track unfolds, Chris Naughton‘s shrieks are piercing to the ears, in a good way. Backed with atmospheric and solitary music from his band-mates, here is where Naughton‘s vocals really hit home. It’s fantastic and easily Green Cathedral is the stand-out track on The Dark Hereafter, simply due to the band’s ability to create a suffocating but thought-provoking environment.

The record closes with Led Astray In The Forest Dark and instantly through signature black metal riffing and a unity of the band’s haunting clean vocal chants, the track intoxicates you. The speed of the guitars, bass and drums are ferocious yet there is an air of melody at present here. It’s a difficult aspect to pull off successfully but the haunting clean vocals and rapid rhythm capture you attention in an instant. By utilising clean vocals throughout the track’s duration it makes for a subtle but enjoyable change to the formula fans have come to expect, and yet again, it maintains this atmosphere that was presented at the start of the record. Towards the closure of the track, the tempo and mood shifts dramatically, with up-beat lead guitar dominating the proceedings which ends The Dark Hereafter on a odd but relieving positive note.

The Dark Hereafter is a trademark WINTERFYLLETH record. Changes to the band’s formula are few and far between, only subtle elements are experimented here, and to good effect. By now, WINTERFYLLETH have mastered their formula and this record demonstrates the band refining their sound. Granted, with only five tracks, the only downside to The Dark Hereafter is that by the record’s conclusion you are yearning for more. Regardless, what is on offer here is a band who know what they are doing and present five tracks of solid black metal. The Dark Hereafter is another solid edition to WINTERFYLLETH‘s discography, one that sits comfortably, and continues the band’s excellent black metal journey.

Rating: 8/10

The Dark Hereafter - Winterfylleth

The Dark Hereafter is set for release on September 30th via Candelight/Spinefarm Records.

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