Review: Winter “Into Darkness” [Future Shock]

Review: Winter “Into Darkness” [Future Shock]

- in Reviews
Score 67%
Occasionally great
67 %
User Rating : 0 (0 votes)

It shouldn’t be a surprise that out of all the Celtic Frost-inspired doom/death metal bands, Winter band took things to the most extreme. Partially slower than a snail on crutches and heavier than a pack of sumo wrestlers, this band must have shocked the world in 1990.

Whereas the connection between doom/death metal and doom metal itself isn’t always too clear (think of Cathedral’s Forest of Equilibrium for instance, which the opinions are divided of), there’s one thing that sets this style apart; the amount of darkness that it can unfold. Whereas certain bands bring to mind the creepy images that you’d expect from horror movies, others resembling the frightening myths of old that we’d love to forget about. In Winter’s case, you should certainly expect one hell of a miserable journey (not that you couldn’t guess that based on the artwork that comes with it!). Guitars range from an engaged Celtic Frost-driven attack to a slower-than-slow collection of minimalistic riffs that breathe out the last signs of life as we know it. Massive drums make every beat reminiscent of mankind’s final days before life as we know it comes to an end. Gruff yells bring to mind Chris Reifert; if only he was a Cyclops instead of a human being and they work perfectly for this musical environment that shows no light at the end of the tunnel.

However, proper musicianship is one thing, but putting your skills to optimal use is another thing. Perhaps it wasn’t as obvious as it is now, but slowing down often comes with a risk of sounding mundane instead of bludgeoning and Winter‘s approach to writing slower bits doesn’t come without problems. While I won’t deny that the slowest moments of Into Darkness have a foreboding feel to them, they often last far too long – therefore, they lose their desirable effects before a far more exciting and speedier follow-up section appears. Between the suffocation grooves and wailing guitar solos of ‘Destiny’, you’ll also come across some painfully slow sections that are hardly exciting at all. The same can be said about the title track, which starts and ends with a serious bang, yet suddenly launches into a slower-than-slow section that lasts for five god damn minutes in between. I also I have a hard time praising ‘Goden’ for what it does; it may make a grim start, but the lack of the dynamics are painfully frustrating; resulting extremely sluggish listening experience that makes this 8 minute track sound a lot longer than it actually is. I also could have done without the overlong intro and the pointless interlude; just like the actual songs themselves, they’re a perfect musical representation of the record’s creepy artwork, yet Into Darkness hardly benefits from them.

Besides their attitude, aesthetics and influence, Winter remain a tricky band to me. When they’re on, they’re certainly capable of nailing this apocalyptic doom/death metal style. This is already notable by the time that ‘Servants of the Warsmen’ crushes its enemies with its bulldozer-driven-by-trolls imagery that’s associated with it. ‘Eternal Frost’, too, shows how utterly punishing this branch of doom/death metal would be; as the track alternates between some groaning riffs, more Celtic Frost-driven heaviness and asphyxiation leads that foreshadow mankind’s impending doom. The remaining songs have their moments of glory and their moments of boredom. Simply put; Winter may have had the potential to release a classic record, but Into Darkness doesn’t do enough for me.

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