The Swedish outfit VINTERSORG have been around since 1994, but have explored many different avenues in that time. Their 1998 release, Till Fjälls, is one of their most popular albums and dredged into subjects such as paganism and nature, with a more melodic and folk-oriented approach. Their later efforts delved into astronomy and the band demonstrated an entirely different approach to metal compared to their other work. Now, Vintersorg have returned with a supposed return to their roots, offering us, essentially, a sequel to Till Fjälls, entitled Till Fjälls del II. Where does this record stand in VINTERSORG‘s discography, and does it revert to the same nature as Till Fjälls?
Basing an album off a band’s previous work understandably comes with some risk, especially given the feedback that Till Fjälls. Till Fjälls del II, however, immediately feels less like a carbon copy of its predecessor, and stands alone as an incredible record and continuation of what the band achieved with Till Fjälls. The record opens with Jökelväktaren – a barrage of riffs laced with melodic majesty, frantic black-metal riffs and mesmerising vocals. A few minutes into the track, the band’s folk influences kick in and really shine, as it completely changes the feeling of the track and demonstrates the band’s ability to play around with different styles and pull them off well. Andreas Helmund’s vocals take a harsher turn at this point, and all in all it succeeds in drawing you in to Till Fjälls del II.
Some of the tracks on Till Fjälls del II aren’t quite as memorable. For example, Fjällets Mäktiga Mur feels as if it’s within VINTERSORG‘s comfort zone slightly, as it doesn’t bring much to the table. It’s a solid song, with an incredibly beautiful piano intro that really draws you in, however doesn’t really raise the bar that has already been set. This doesn’t impact the quality of the album however, as the other tracks more than compensate for these little remarks. Vinterstorm opens with an intriguing acoustic section before bursting into chants and fast-paced riffs from Mattias Marklund. One thing that really stands out on Vinterstorm is the incredible bass work from Simon Lundström. Tusenåriga Stråk is one of the standouts on the record, as it transitions from clean and harsh vocals exquisitely, and presents one of the strongest (and catchiest) choruses on Till Fjälls del II. The album closes with Svart Manne, which is one of the most beautiful tracks on the record. Building the track up with incredible acoustics and soothing vocals (both front and backing) creates a layered and soothing end to a journey of nature and melody.
VINTERSORG have pulled an excellent album out of the bag, and arguably their best. Either as a standalone album or a continuation of the original record, Till Fjälls del II is an excellent, atmospheric, and immersive album that really shows off what Sweden is capable of. It will be interesting to see what direction VINTERSORG head in with their music after this release. This record would be an excellent listen for those who are either unfamiliar with VINTERSORG thus far, or those who have already listened to and loved Till Fjälls.
Till Fjälls del II is out now via Napalm Records.
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