The Threnody of Triumph

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In one of those quirky twists of reason all too common to the heavy metal community, the pagan black metal style has increasingly become an unlikely haven for nerdy history buffs harboring deep-seated anger management issues (one can only assume); issues which they have thankfully chosen to express in song rather than through violent cultural terrorism (hello Norwegian Inner Circle). By and large, these artists also choose to highlight folklore particular to their homelands, and thus, Winterfylleth being British, it follows that lyrics inspired by the bandmembers' shared Anglo-Saxon heritage should pervade 2012's The Threnody of Triumph -- their third album. Be that as it may, opening gambit "A Thousand Winters" may as well have been named "a thousand blastbeats," given the relentless onslaught that ignites it; but the layered, harmonic speed-picking and evocative choral voices that conclude it soon confirm there's more to Winterfylleth than predictable aggression backing obscure legends. That balance of contrasts is developed apace as the album progresses, and as baser instincts consistently give ground to loftier ambitions (though rampant fury never vanishes entirely -- see "Void of Light," among others), subsequent offerings like "A Memorial," "The Glorious Plain," and the especially epic title track introduce striking classical music elements and ever more sophisticated arrangements. Before long, initial reservations are replaced with seriously readjusted respect as Winterfylleth goes on to approximate a long-awaited second coming of sadly defunct Norse pagan metal gods Windir -- so much so that even typically disposable interludes, like the mournful strings of "Afterield Freon" and heartachingly acoustic "Home Is Behind," feel useful in fleshing out The Threnody of Triumph's grand design. Not bad for a bunch of bookworms with emotional axes to grind.

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