Black metal has numerous bands that adhere to an all-viciousness-all-the-time policy, but there are also the black metal bands that offer something more nuanced and musical; Winterfylleth clearly fall into the latter category. The Mercian Sphere, Winterfylleth's second album, is a folk-influenced black metal recording that does not govern by brute force alone, and if one is looking for nuance, there is plenty of it to be found on melodic tracks such as "The Fields of Beckoning," "Children of the Stones," "The Ruin," and "Gateway to the Dark Peak." But that is not to say that this 2010 release caters to mainstream tastes; Winterfylleth will never be mistaken for Avril Lavigne, and lead singer Chris Naughton's abrasive rasp vocals aren't exactly mainstream. Rather, Winterfylleth (a British band in a field dominated by Scandinavians) thrive on an appealing blend of melody, harmony, and metallic aggression. Both are important parts of the equation for Winterfylleth, whose lyrics deal with ancient Anglo Saxon mythology (in fact, the band's name means October in Old English). European folk is a prominent influence on this 68-minute CD; Winterfylleth aren't quite a folk metal band in the way that Ensiferum, Korpiklaani, Eluveitie, Primordial, and Finntroll are folk-metal bands, but they aren't shy about incorporating traditional European folk influences, and that Euro-folk influence only enhances the musicality that they have to offer. Of course, black metal purists are unlikely to become Winterfylleth fans; what admirers of melodic black metal consider nuanced and intricate is watered down in the minds of black metal purists. But it's doubtful that Winterfylleth's members are going to lose any sleep over anything the purists have to say about The Mercian Sphere, which is well worth checking out if one appreciates black metal's more musical side.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson