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Winterwolf - Cycle of the Werewolf
Review: The enduring tension within Scandinavian death metal has been between the melodic savant-pop tendencies of the culture contrasted with the pure rage of its emotional expression as felt in chromatic and heavily rhythmic songs. Winterwolf picks up where the Swedish and Finnish bands of the 1990s left off, creating a sound of its own that sounds heavily influenced by Carnage and Demigod. It balances the infectious rhythms and sublime sense of melodic order that each helped define Scandinavian death metal.
Winterwolf is essentially a melodic band masquerading as brutal, anthemic death metal in the style of early Nihilist. These songs use the epileptic shuddering of pure rhythm riffs but only in the context of a developing melody across the song; for now, these melodies remain simple and relatively conservative, often derived from known successes in the past of death metal. The buzzsaw distortion of Sunlight Studios bands allows power chord riffs to crash explosively when strummed open, but to rise and glide into seamless fluidity when strummed with a tremolo.
The surface aspects of this band are based on not only the formative years of the Swedish sound, but a general knowledge of death metal from the past two generations; influences from Immolation, Pestilence and Celtic Frost merge with the tendency to sound like a second album At the Gates as executed by Carnage, with the weirdly evasive melodies of Demigod waiting in the wings. Instrumentation is of high quality, and vocals are abrupt and deep, driving the music forward while the drums constraint the explosive sound with a combination of fast patterns and something that sounds like slowed-down d-beat adapted to the more complex rhythms of death metal.
While many will say nothing new is found here because the style is obviously derivative, the content -- while it does borrow much from the past -- exists in a perpetual tension of forging itself anew out of the elements of the old. Songwriting is quite good, with songs centralizing around a catchy chorus and a melody which is reflected in fragments in riff hooks and the evolution and change of riffs. Even more, these songs capture a spirit that while clearly hailing the past, belongs to them and their creators alone.