Tarnkappe‘s Winterwaker, one of The Best Underground Metal Albums of 2016, was released today on CD and LP from Hammerheart Records. Winterwaker was digitally released late last year and the physical release delayed due to pressing plant backlog.
Dutch black metal band Tarnkappe are streaming their entire upcoming Winterwaker album on Soundclound. Featuring members of Kjeld and Kaeck, Winterwaker is one of the Death Metal Underground staff’s favorite releases of the year: Tarnkappe summon back fond memories of early Gorgoroth, Zyklon-B, and Niden Div 187 refined into effective melodic narratives instead of merely another “cool riff” band aping Darkthone in pop punk songs, which is what Fenriz and Nocturno Culto have been doing themselves for well over a decade.
Tarnkappe‘s Winterwaker (“Guardian of Winter” in English) is another Dutch black metal album aiming to extend the victories of the old forward into a modern world deluged with genericized and masqueraded jingle rock. Most modern black metal recordings consist of typical verse chorus verse hardcore punk songs with occasional tremolo-picked, hopefully minor key riffs and raspy vocals to differentiated it from the punks with their spiky hair and Sharpie-drawn straight edge Xs in the same way that modern opposing political parties mostly present two sides of the same leftist coin merely aiming the public towards financially catering to differing oligarchic leagues. Tarnkappe, a duo composed of members of Kaeck and Kjeld, aim to bury the bodies of the mainstream-media promoted black ‘n’ roll and “war metal” themed crossover thrash groups in an unmarked, shallow mass grave in the forest-tundra.
Dutch insurrectionary black metal band Tarnkappe has released both of its albums on CD as a bundle for those who appreciate black metal that stays true to the late-90s form of the band, which is equal parts later Darkthrone and Zyklon-B.
Article by Ludvig Boysen.
Wintersun has finally finished the second half of their 2012 album Time I. Jari Mäenpää, the composer and founder of the band, announced the record was finally finished and will be released “sooner or later.” Mäenpää crowdfunded an entire new home studio and sauna to complete the record. Wintersun released their self-titled debut album in 2004 which became a hit among lower testosterone fans of power and Gothenburg metal due to Wintersun’s use of death metal and black metal technique. In 2012, after years of delay, Wintersun released half of their second album, called Time I which was the first half of the upcoming Time II.
Article by David Rosales.
As a wave of revivalists of the old metal ways of the late 80s and early 90s assail us with full optimism, we are face with the dilemma of creation of the new through the emulation of that which is no more. From this sincere intent are born projects like Schattenvald who attempt to extend the lessons of the adventurers of more than two decades ago. However, the bar that was raised by those heroes is set higher than even such well-intentioned moderns band can reach.
Winter Thrice would’ve ensnared me for some time, had it come out in 2009. In my youth, I was more receptive to pomp and circumstance in my music, and if there’s one thing Borknagar’s latest recording does especially wrong, it’s that it never relents from its apparent desire to be epic, even to the point of having its share of contrived quiet sections for obvious dynamic contrast. Restraint is not part of these musician’s repertoire, and it makes for yet another flat (albeit psychically draining) album that I can’t imagine even its most rabid fans having much patience for once the initial blitz of sales wears off.
At its core, Borknagar is descended from the same sort of ‘atmospheric’ black metal that their fellow scenesters and countrymen in Arcturus once made a living doling out to the masses. It’s probably a coincidence (at best, historical understandable in the context of Norway in the early ’90s) that both of those bands have some roots in especially unusual death metal oriented recordings. What degraded these bands (and similar ones) over time was their ever increasing addiction to sonic novelty. While Borknagar was quicker to unify a few elements they liked and streamline everything else into their signature sound (I described the teaser as “melodramatic, pseudo-progressive heavy rock music”), they’ve ended up so dependent on their own aesthetic that it interferes with their ability to develop their songs.
Now, Borknagar is technically proficient, as you might expect from any metal band that sells and isn’t deliberately ultra-primitive. However, only the vocalists’ contributions manage to rise to any sort of prominence. If I strain my ears, I can catch a glimpse of what the instrumentalists are attempting, and I’m sure it’s pleasant enough as a result of all the time that went into writing and recording it, but there’s very little of substance there beyond the ‘epic’ orientation of Borknagar’s songwriting. On top of that are a series of sung parts from three vocalists all scrambling for your attention. These are again skilled singers (and shriekers) to the point that their performance takes center stage, but when the arrangements they perform are so forgettable, does it really matter?
Ultimately, I found Winter Thrice to be so aggressively unmemorable, to the point that remembering just what it sounds like beyond a vague impression of 3/4 time and minor key progressions is difficult. At its best, it sounds good, but this stylish album is ultimately free of substance.
The bastard sons of Molested are back. Borknagar started their career as a melodic ‘viking’ themed black metal band, but gradually (under the influence of its revolving door of vocalists) evolved towards the sort of melodramatic, pseudo-progressive heavy rock music of their post-black companions like Arcturus and Solefald. Winter Thrice is allegedly going to hearken back to the band’s earlier days in some ways, but judging from the sample track released, this is going to be the same sort of musically proficient but sterile product so many other bands are releasing. It comes out on January 22nd, 2016, further adding to the barrage of upcoming releases in that month and on that day in particular.
When something great passes, people stand around wishing for more of those moments of power and beauty that it brought. And so we get the black metal equivalent of Django Wilson and his Electric Band Play the Hits of the Beatles, except that now it is a black metal version which revisits the greatest moments of early Gorgoroth through a filter of Ancient and Graveland. Nothing here is poorly executed but the whole misses the driving spirit of black metal that gave it its profundity and instead works on recombining known tropes that once gave it great intensity.
All of the classic attributes are here: the minor-key trailing melodies, the bombastic resurgent themes, the shifting between riffs conveying a sense of hope and thus returning to a feral despair, but the animating force that holds them together does not appear. Like a musical version of Frankenstein’s monster, The Divination of Antiquity is the most beautiful black metal album ever made from pieces of its best, but it lacks the soul to see beyond the immediate and material and touch the conceptual ground of actual black metal. Winterfylleth make songs with the basic feel and sensation of black metal, but without the intention behind it, they never develop to any conclusion sufficient for black metal and instead detour into the semi-circular wistful feeling that indie-rock and post-metal — both witnesses to the decline of human society in lugubrious ways, but helpless observers and not soul-participants in the counteraction — create that are the artistic equivalent of euthanasia. Like back, watch it happen, relax and let the waves wash over you. It will all be over soon.
As the album progresses, The Divination of Antiquity starts falling back on more rock and jazz tropes to supplement its diminishing store of black metal landmark moments. The result is pleasant to listen to and evokes many of the old feelings, but like uncompleted thoughts they linger in conversation outside the French coffeehouse and dissipate on the car exhaust and cold air of the morning breeze. It would be wonderful to find in this “what once was,” but that would be the equivalent of concluding the recent Star Wars movies will have the impact of the original out of nostalgia, and ignoring the obvious missing elements which, and not its accessories and techniques, made the original so powerful.