Winterfylleth – The Divination of Antiquity | Review

My first encounter with Winterfylleth came via their 2012 album, The Threnody of Triumph. It was basically a two ships passing in the night affair. I heard it but didn't spend any time with it. I've spent plenty of time with their newest release, The Divination of Antiquity. Much of that was just letting in sink in. Sink down, layer by layer until it found its final resting place wrapped around my soul.

As it will yours through the inescapable pleasure of ancient windswept melodies coursing through the core of Winterfylleth's signature sound. They may ring with a bleak and icy tone but a warmth comes from within countering the harsh desperation of vocalist/guitarist Chris Naughton's screams.

Paired with guitarist Mark Wood, Naughton along with bassist Nick Wallwork create sweeping vistas of moving sound. A constant buzz of energy powers scorching rhythms and glorious melodies. As befitting the tracks, drummer Simon Lucas adapts to the changing landscapes. Whether keeping time with grace (“A Careworn Heart”) or more often blasting away the concept of time with ferocity, his commitment is never in question. Although the higher the bpms go, the higher Lucas pushes the band.

The title track sets the stage for what is largely a homogenous album, not straying too far from the foundations laid down early. Carnal black metal screams – the way black metal should be screamed in this writer's humble opinion – dig their hooks in and swiftly lift the listener up and away from the chaos and selfish existence of modern life. The listener is taken to a place still full of fear but of a different and more primal sort. Swollen-heart melodies, which are the album's lifeblood, protect against the thunderous percussion which sounds like the thudding feet of a predator in full pursuit.

As visceral as the searing black metal guitars and relentless percussion can be, Winterfylleth still conjure up images of great heights, natural beauty and a deep reverence for their homeland and its past. There is pain to be felt for certain but it's a cleansing pain.

Acoustic guitar and low chanting voices enhance the album's depth and overall appeal. The chants on “Whisper of the Elements” sound like the Earth itself is talking and the serenity and peace of the mostly acoustic “The World Ahead” calms the savage beast. You can feel the exhilarating rush as you're swept through endless valleys and hills, verdant with life and lore across stretches of time. Ghastly or ghostly, the album resonates deeply within the soul. The Divination of Antiquity is a treasure of conflicting sonics. The magical confluence of the sublime and the pestilential churns with the intent of a grand design, sending the listener forth under magnificent clear skies and favourable winds.

Few black metal albums display this level of balance and depth, merging menace with melody, brutality with beauty. The leaves are changing and so are the winds. Follow them toward the glory of Winterfylleth and The Divination of Antiquity.

Matt Hinch

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Matt Hinch lives an unassuming life on the backroads outside Forest Mills, Ontario, Canada. He packs in as much metal as he possible can amid factory work, raising three daughters with his wife and working the land. In addition to Scratch the Surface Matt also writes for Hellbound, Metal Bandcamp, About Heavy Metal and his own blog, Kingdom of Noise.
Keep up with him on Twitter @KingdomofNoise.