England’s Winterfylleth have slowly been making their distinct mark on the black metal world for around five years and somehow completely outdo themselves with each successive album release. 2010s “The Mercian Sphere” heralded a massive step up from their debut and their third full length “The Threnody of Triumph” is a truly masterful work. Taking the elements found in their previous records – the stately essence of pride, purity of sound and a sweeping majesty – Winterfylleth combine their basic fundamentals into an hour long tour de force.
The cover art for “The Threnody of Triumph” is a gentle reminder of the splendour of the natural world and the ordered chaos that lies within Winterfylleth’s work is in stark contrast to the magnificence of nature. Threnody itself means a lament, or song of mourning. Perhaps Winterfylleth are grieving for the destruction of the landscapes and history of their world? There is beauty in despair after all, and this quartet is adept at creating an atmosphere of loss and as such, reflections on man’s effect on the immediate environment.
There are tender touches of beauty to be found in the guitar work, particularly the shimmering and climbing beauty of album open “A Thousand Winters,” but such glory soon gives way to disparate and harsh vocal (C. Naughton) lines and a devastating drum (S.Lucas) performance that paves the way for flashes of all-encompassing bleakness. Winterfylleth’s signature clean vocal breaks add to the desolate atmosphere of their work, the harmonies conjuring images of historical and bygone days and the innate pride the band have in their country. It’s a technique used often throughout “The Threnody of Triumph” and rears again on second track “The Swart Raven” but it never feels overused or outstays its melodic welcome. It’s a gentle touch that serves to give the more bombastic movements of the album that extra leap of power.
Peaceful strings lead the calming interlude of “Æfterield-Fréon” (and also later on the bittersweet “Home Is Behind”) before the fury of “A Memorial” appears to lay waste to the sombre quietude that came before. “The Glorious Plain” is easily a standout track and possesses the controlled anger that Winterfylleth harness so deftly across their work. Never pushing their manifesto down the throats of the listener they are keen to let their words and music do all the work and for the audience to pull their own conclusions from the desolate ether. Deep and sorrow-filled harmonies fill the air with a sense of loss and misery at long-forgotten memories and an almost romantic nod to days past flows through the record as a whole.
“A Soul Unbound” drifts with a measured and precise pace, the processional feel adding to the despondency that ebbs within “The Threnody of Triumph” and invokes an imposing grandeur over all other “atmospheric” black metal. Winterfylleth are truly at the zenith of their career with this record and it’s incredible to think that they still have far to go in the realm of musical accomplishments.
Closing on the momentous and morosely melodic “The Threnody of Triumph,” Winterfylleth cement their standing as one of England’s most dynamic and interesting black metal acts, and with “The Threnody of Triumph” they surely deserve the recognition of a wider and worldwide audience. This third full length is steeped in the history of England and the band constantly pushes for an understanding of the heritage and pagan past of their country. It’s a travesty that Winterfylleth haven’t forged their way out of Europe as yet, but good things come to those that wait. And that wait will be oh so worth it.
“The Threnody of Triumph” is majestic, solemn and beautifully rendered. Winterfylleth have arrived.