It wasn’t long ago that British black metal was in a dismal state of disarray. Akercocke had sent their dapper suits permanently to the dry cleaners in 2012, and at the same time, the UK’s most commercially successful black metal act, Cradle Of Filth, were in a bloated, toothless stasis. Rushing across the windswept moors, however, were bands such as A Forest Of Stars, Wodensthrone, Fen and Winterfylleth; hungry acts eager to legitimise UKBM as a scene worthy of Scandinavia and the US in the main.
Winterfylleth emerged as British torchbearers due to the keen balance of folk-infused melody and age-old ferocity at the heart of their music on a tremendous run of releases that spanned four albums between 2008 and 2014. By 2016, however, the Manchester-based band seemingly reached a creative plateau, as The Dark Hereafter didn’t quite ripple with the same chest-beating country-pride as its four predecessors
Judging by the velocity at which they blast forth on The Reckoning Dawn’s exhilarating opening gambit, Misdeeds Of Faith, though, it appears as if the old English folk departure on 2018’s autumnal The Hallowing Of Heirdom has rekindled their inner fire. Part four of The ‘Wayfarer saga’, which began on 2010’s The Mercian Sphere, is as blustery as you’d expect, a darkly swarming sense assault. The violin-aided neo-folk stylings at the beginning of Absolved In Fire display a level of class above contemporaries Dawn Ray’d, while the closing In Darkness Begotten could stand proud as the fastest, most vicious track in Winterfylleth’s arsenal to date if it wasn’t for its cinematic post-rock ending.
There may be no real surprises on The Reckoning Dawn, nor were any required; Winterfylleth’s strengths have been transcribed to stone at this stage, and it’s just a rush to hear them play at full force again, as highlighted by the title track’s grandiloquent pacing and arcing and how Yielding The March Law elicits an aura of naturalistic vastness that’s worthy of Bathory.
The Reckoning Dawn is out on May 8 (opens in new tab)