May 6, 2020 Winterfylleth – The Reckoning Dawn (Album Review)
Taking their moniker from the Old English name for October (“Winterfylleþ”), Manchester’s Winterfylleth has been producing their own bitter varietal of Black Metal since 2007. Then taking a sharp turn with 2018’s The Hallowing of Heirdom – an acoustic effort that served as a stark departure from their heavier works – they are now on the verge of returning with The Reckoning Dawn.
Set for release on Friday, May 8, 2020, via Candlelight and Spinefarm Records, The Reckoning Dawn marks their first full-length album since 2014’s The Divination of Antiquity. Recorded and produced by Chris Fielding (Primordial, Napalm Death), the album also features a very familiar lineup lead by Chris Naughton on guitars/lead vocals, Simon Lucas on drums, along with newer members Nick Wallwork on bass, Dan Capp on guitars, plus Mark Deeks on keyboards.
A total of eight songs, from the onset The Reckoning Dawn projects the sound of a band in-between their “Olde” Heavy Metal ways and the aftershocks of their more recent acoustic detour. The casual breakdown in the middle of the title-track is a prime example of this nascent mixture. This is also the case with the opening of its predecessor, “Absolved In Fire,” a two-minute movement of maudlin strings appearing ahead of a Black Metal presentation.
Then there is “Betwixt Two Crowns” offering a short acoustic guitar interlude that serves as an effective warm-up to the scathing “Yielding the March Law.” On the latter piece, the droning monotone of the backing vocals is again an interesting diversion from the more straight-ahead sounds presented. Furthermore, after launching with a riff that could fit somewhere within the realm of contemporary Blackened Death Metal, the last bits of “In Darkness Begotten” sounds remarkably like mid-era Emperor – think some time right around the release of 1997’s Reverence EP.
This all in mind, there are also songs such as “The Reckoning Dawn” which pull back to the barren desolation of early Norwegian Black Metal. Additionally, “A Greatness Undone” captures the skill and structure that the next wave of Norwegian bands have showcased. However, the acoustic interlude inside the song leads to a more Progressive or even Power Metal span.
Without reading too much into the title of the album, perhaps The Reckoning Dawn is meant to be the schism between the dark Black Metal of early Winterfylleth and the later acoustic vein. Or, more bluntly, The Reckoning Dawn is an effort to patch that schism. If this is the case, the rough edges will be smoothed out as the band refines and expands their sound. Overall, there are enticing portions on both sides of the electric divide, but as a sum total, they often feel somewhat incomplete. For these reasons, Cryptic Rock gives The Reckoning Dawn 3 out of 5 stars.