Sunday, 10 February 2013

Frostwork - Lore Of Winter: Ealdspell

Wodfreca Records 2012
1.The Winter Raven 2.On White Carrion Wings 3.Cast From His Wings
4.When Raven Claws The Sky 5.Frozen Veins Shed No Blood
6.The Essence Of Darkest Winter 7.The She Wolf 8.This Woman Wolf Skin Clad
Yet another one man band hailing from these shores, this time round its Frostwork, Dagon being the one man behind this black metal outfit. Beginning this album is 'The Winter Raven' which turns out to be five minutes of eerie and atmospheric samples, Ravens 'cawing', footsteps trudging through snow with the wind whistling around the lone walker. Dark, ambient chanting is accompanied by mournful acoustic guitars which all make for a depressive atmosphere. Personally speaking, five minutes of this to introduce the album is too much, it seems to drag on for an eternity when all you want to happen is for the music to blast in! As the opener fades out and 'On White Carrion Wings' begins we're greeted by more of the same, more ravens and more wind. It doesn’t last long however as the ultra harsh guitars screech in about as high pitched as you will hear on a black metal album. Dagons tortured screams absolutely scathing, drenched in echo to produce some really old school sounding black metal vocals. The production is a strange one, because the guitars are so high pitched it makes the bass guitar really stand out on its own and not gel at all musically with the rest of the instruments. This could also be said about the drum programming, which isn’t the best sounding i've heard by any means and again sounds 'separate' from the guitars, rather than acting as the rhythm keeper to the song. 'Cast From His Wings' is similar to the opening track, not so much a song, rather an interlude that consists of acoustic guitars played melodically with chanting and mournful vocals used heavily throughout. More sampled ravens as well! It's very well played and when the harsh whispered vocals are added sounds extremely atmospheric especially when the screamed vocals are also added, atmosphere oozing from every note. At nearly six minutes long, this again seems to last too long and is extremely repetitive, but maybe that’s the point.
'When Raven Claw The Sky' is another interlude that consists of sampled rain and female spoken vocals. Very short and not really sure what purpose it served. 'Frozen Veins Shed No Blood' is as depressive and mournful as Dagon has sounded so far, the main guitar riffs really catchy indeed whilst remaining utterly depressive and haunting and vocally its tortured, scathing and as desperately suicidal as you’re likely to hear. Sadly the production lets things down again, the guitars, drums and bass never really sounding like they belong together which is a real shame because with a more 'suitable' production, this song would have really hit home – Its a very good, catchy song let down by a production that doesn’t really suit the style of music. 'The Essence Of The Darkest Winter' blasts open almost immediately in a hail of ice-cold scathing screamed vocals and high pitched tremolo picked black metal riffing. This however doesn’t last too long, the song drops off completely to allow a soft acoustic guitar and eerie sampled howls and screams to flood the listener with more mournful and dense atmospheres. The song then returns to the harsh black metal with tempos kept to an absolute minimum, prolonging the torture. 'The She Wolf' is yet another interlude style track which is made up of female spoken vocals, ravens and the 'lone walker' heard in opener 'The Winter Raven'. Wind effects and keyboards / orchestrations add a dramatic edge, but again its something and nothing really. These samples blend seamlessly into the closing track, 'This Woman Wolf Skin Clad' which begins life acoustically with guitars and drums being present along side the sampled winds effects. This is where a human drummer would have really made the difference, especially with a suitable production as the drum sounds chosen here are not right at all. The track slowly builds in tempo and the black metal style guitars slowly fade in and gather the momentum of the song. The production is still a niggling point however, the instruments once again not sounding 'together' as one and they sit rather clumsily alongside each other which is a shame as the black metal riffs on offer are really good. This is an album which promised so much and has definitely been let down by the production. The bass and drums are almost 'too clean' for the style of music on offer and are too far away in sound and contrast from the harsh and fast black metal style riffs. Dagon is a very talented individual and is capable of writing good ambient BM songs, but on this release there just isn’t enough of it on show to fully appreciate his work. There are a lot of 'interludes' which seem to be filling out the album which, to be fair, might be what Frostwork is meant to be about i.e. creating dense, haunting and atmospheric pieces of music, not necessarily through black metal songs. Generally this album consists of well written black metal and atmospheric compositions and is packed full of devastating pieces of music; its not going to appeal to everyone as it is quite unconventional but is ultimately unique but is sadly let down by quite a flat production.
7 out of 10

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