Seething melodies, crushing kit-work and fuzzy distortion-laden guitars are the amalgam which constructs the behemoth “Solitary Winter Night”. One is hard pressed to believe WINTER OF APOKALYPSE hail from Portland Oregon when confronted with the brutal yet beautiful presence of their debut full-length album. This long-player is a stab into the heart of modern Black Metal, taking up the reign of the DARKTHRONE of yesterday and crafting a record which would have been a successful follow-up to the mighty “Transilvanian Hunger” of ’94. This album seeks to rectify the wrongs of a thousand Fenriz and Nocturno Culto worshippers, swiftly crafting a painting of omnipotent proportions which surpasses the whole of previous attempts. The last thing we need is another DARKTHRONE clone, that is why WINTER OF APOKALYPSE have crawled forth from the blanketing darkness as the DARKTHRONE clone to rule them all.
This release is direct and to the point. No dragging intros or acoustic interludes will be discovered on this journey. The riffs reek of quality, the battery pounds its way through your skull and the vocals hearken to a time of pure misanthropic bliss. This is the way Black Metal is meant to be experienced and this is the modern art we have all come to love. The very soul of this art is found buried just below the surface of the compositions like a washed up corpse that has been laid to rest on a beach. See that boot sticking up over there, that’s the beautiful melodic line shrieking through the atmosphere in the beginning of “Dark Sinistral Path”. That hand jutting up around the bend? The beautiful depravity of “Storming The Gates Of Heaven”; simply grand in a disparate sort of way.
Riffs assault the listener in a steady and rhythmic way, most compositions bleeding forth two or three which demand to be devoured. This simplistic and minimalist approach at the very core of the compositions lends itself well to the established atmosphere and displays the extent to which WINTER OF APOKALYPSE can control the height and depth of your emotions. Time changes and incessant drumming will pound your body lifeless before letting you go to cling to a fleeting melody buried in the distortion until a crushing fill will shatter your effort and send your bloody corpse lifeless to the snow below. This presence behind the kit is amazing as Armageddon hits us with many fills which are unexpected and innovative in a backward minimalist sense (I counted three such fills in the opener itself). This really adds an unexpected bolster to the riffs and guitar-work and rounds out the whole package.
The control of tempo utilized by this project is somewhat impressive. Most of the tracks found on “Solitary Winter Night” are of a rapid variety, speeding across our senses like a speeding automobile about to lose traction. The rhythms are fast while avoiding heavy blasting or double-bass use and making ample use of the tremolo picked riff. With “True Pagan Hearts” we are shown an altogether different side to this band, as we are lead forth with a set of slow doom-tinged riffs which seek to crush with overwhelming brutality. This stark contrast in the middle of the album alleviates any monotony which could possibly arise and refreshes the lethality to a point of constant enjoyment.
In addition to spitting out riffs and melodies like the sun will never rise, aptly named Fascist handles the vocal duties. The scathing treatment given to the mic is insane as I have not heard such rough and ferocious shrieks in a long while. The vile vocal patterns cascade through the compositions with an enmity and life all their own, swirling about and producing an altogether esoteric feel through clever use of an effect which causes the voice to fade out and inflict a claustrophobic feel of a deep cave; truly amazing.
Rarely does a band hearkening to the Norwegian origins of this sub-genre so strongly capture that spark and integrity while still maintaining a status quo of unique. WINTER OF APOKALYPSE have forged ahead and placed themselves alongside fellow inspired CRAFT as the only two DARKTHRONE clones worth listening to. In a time when we are treated to the somewhat bland “Sardonic Wrath” one could serve well in picking up “Solitary Winter Night” and letting darkness descend. (Online October 13, 2005)