Wolfheart – Winterborn
Release Date: October 11, 2013
To someone living relatively close to the equator, in the very comfortable United States, nothing sounds quite as frightening as a Finland winter. Parts of the country are snow packed for more than half of the year, and for a significant percent of the season, the northern part of the country is in complete darkness with well below zero temperatures. The mental image coming to mind is one of perceptible solitude, darkness, and slow decay. Then immediately the question comes to mind… what could possibly be a better environment for metal bands?
Wolfheart is a one man metal project started by Tuomas Saukkonen known for his work in Dawn of Solace, Black Sun Aeon (another solo project) and a handful of other bands. His past experience in the metal world propelled him into creating Wolfheart and ending all other projects. No matter what name is put on the album, rest assured if it features Tuomas Saukkonen, you will not be disappointed. The extremely talented songwriting ability and all around musicianship displayed by Tuomas simply could not be questioned.
Winterborn is his first full length album released as Wolfheart. The music is extremely hard to put a definite genre on. The sound is heavily drenched in death metal, but there are a lot of elements of doom and folk metal alike mixed in. While the album plays on, the mental image of a cold, dark winter is easily brought to mind, complete with the eerie loneliness of walking through a forest with nothing but the cold wind stinging your face. It’s truly haunting in an extremely beautiful and original way.
The single for “The Hunt” was released in August and got the metal world buzzing about this new material. “The Hunt” kicks off Winterborn with an acoustic intro, fooling the unsuspecting listener as the song builds into this relentless death metal tune. The song features many melodic guitar riffs and small atmospheric touches that can not go unnoticed. “Routa pt.2” is over seven minutes long, and a full minute of it is this simple keyboard intro, using some chords that could chill a corpse to its bones. Once the drums and guitar lines pick up and the song really gets going, it reveals itself to be one of the most well put together tracks on the album.
One of the hardest hitting songs here, “Ghosts of Karelia” begins with an extremely fast and gritty introduction, but the quick tempo fades into a more groovy feel when the vocals come in. The guitar lines are moving and, about a minute in, create great emotional depth with a more melodic riff than expected over the heavy background music. “Chasm” is another longer song, at over seven and a half minutes, but flies by thanks to unbelievable guitar work and smooth style transitions throughout. It moves from light acoustic touches to roaring vocals and heavy distorted guitar, with a tribal drum pattern behind. It’s definitely an easy song to get lost in on repeat, which is exactly what I did.
All in all, the album takes you into an entirely new world of melodic death metal, with so many emotions running rampant. The quick tempo changes and ability of the drumming to snap from super light touches to machine gun blasting is unmatched and demands attention from the very first second of the album to the last. It is a completely enjoyable listen, and as the weather gets colder, and the snow line lowers, I will return to this album many times in the future. For any fan from power metal to death metal, there is something in this album for you to enjoy so don’t sell yourself short and miss out.