Wolfheart - Winterborn
Reviewer: Rak Hiasat - 2013-09-26
Highlights: Routa pt.2, I and Chasm
Tuomas Saukkonen the Finnish composer, multi-instrumentalist, singer and producer disband all his active bands in January 2013, Before the Dawn, The Final Harvest, Black Sun Aeon, RoutaSielu and Dawn of Solace, in order to concentrate on his new band Wolfheart, Tuomas describe Wolfheart genre as Winter Metal something many of wont understand what it mean, for me Wolfheart genre its sound more like Melodic Death/Dark Gothic Metal, and I still remember his message for me telling me that Wolfheart is a cocktail of all his former projects. After 14 successful years with seven studio albums, Tuomas release the debut album for Wolfheart "Winterborn" the official release date for its October 2013, and after few spins all I can say about this outfit "it’s a fucking masterpiece".
Going into this album, Wow holy shit when you first play this CD you will not even believe how much sound Tuomas managed to pack into this recording. It's absolutely fucking enormous sounding. Much as "Before the Dawn" is produced, the production is very dense. This could be the best produced CD in extreme metal in quite some time. Now, on to the music itself. Toumas uses an amazing blend of heavy rhythm riffing, violin, and dense scary ENORMOUS midrange vocals. The opening track "The Hunt" is awe striking, and nothing short of it. Every riff is perfect. The song structure is pristine. Don't let Wolfheart's tag of "symphonic" throw you - this is not obnoxious overdone string stupidity. This is not folky nonsense. Oh, no. This is absolutely unique and powerful melodic death metal with dense, thick production, when I first heard this CD, I said to me, "Rak, this is what every band wishes they sounded like". Nothing against any other band, mind you, but this is in another league entirely. There are some definite Finnish melodeath influences in the music, but as far as I'm concerned, this CD eclipses them all. The songwriting is superior. The production couldn't get much better, if at all.
The performances on the CD are stellar Much to my surprise, when violins are used in modern extreme metal, they're almost always tastefully done. Of course there always has to be a few bands that are downright obnoxious with their use of strings, but Tuomas really shows how they should be used. Everything right down to the scant and tastefully used crispy deep/harsh vocals. The album continues with an oddly progressive sound in Lead In, but don't judge them on this; as after the short one minute progressiveness, they get into their first real song. This is where you are introduced to their new lyrics. I personally love them; they sound like Tuomas's former projects but better and darker. The album basically goes on to the end with the same voice but the music changes greatly. It's a great musical trip. Fans of Lost in Twilight will recognize from Toumas's last albums. It now has some slow but nice lyrics added to it, and seems a bit slower. I prefer the instrumental but I can't bash this version either. The instrumental was just screaming out for lyrics. After that comes the title track "Gale of Winter" and my personal favorite; "Rout pt.2".
The songs are very atmospheric...particularly the slower songs like "Whiteout" or fast as "Ghosts of Karelia". There isn't any high-speed guitar wizardry but what few solos there are on the album are pretty good, with lots of emotion. Toumas clearly concentrates on melody instead of technicality, the percussion has a very distinct sound, and helps accentuate the epic feel, and really helps the music move very fluidly. There is a many of solos, I seem to recall, but given the nature of the content, many solos would make it better and better, in any case. Still, the work he does on the guitar is very well done. There is also symphonic backing, and this only further implies a dark, beautiful atmosphere. I know this phrase is being heavily over used, but it simply can't be described in many other ways "Chasm" start with clean/acoustic guitars playing, to add more unique sound to this outfit, jazzy drumming points following by lead riffing, and then acoustic guitar solo, I was expecting to discover an instrumental song on this album, but few seconds later Tuomas harsh vocals pops up, to add such a wonderful timing touch this is highly strong-spot for him to show his mastery talents on vocals, guitars, drums, keys and in sampling anything that the song theme needs to.
Every song here has focus and payoff that leaves me wanting more, in the next album because "Breathe" it’s the mini masterpiece in this mastery album, am really out of words to describe how much Tuomas is a fucking talented musician/producer, simply its everything I had wished for. Tuomas plays an interesting form of death metal - his own style, really - as it isn't nearly as pop-influenced as some of the other Fredman fare, and yet it isn't so hard-edged that it would frighten fans of Arch Enemy, In Flames, etc… This album is more than recommended, it must listen to album.