Fierce filigree from Finland: richly wrought metal saga about hero below zero.
Working on a debut album for a decade may be a long story in itself, but this Helsinki sextet took their time wisely, and this album whose title translates as “Born Of Winter’s Tears” is not a regular fantasy tale – at least in instrumental terms. Here, wild growl and gentle flute are function of a single pair of pipes, Sami Ferm’s, which doesn’t make such a contrasting twine less surprising in “Exile” once the guitars’ squeal has subsided and machine-gun drums make room for not only anthemic choruses but also delicate folk dance.
Yet while “Winterheart’s Silence” is an exquisite example of early music, machine-gun drums blend perfectly with orchestral passages of keyboards to let riffs lead the way to glory, yet the tom toms left alone with vocals give “Brothers Of Hate” a fantastic tribal slant. The same communal sensibility fills the funereal chant of “Grief Of Woods” before “Sydäntalven Viha” expands the dynamic scope of the adventure with a fantastic interplay of the entire ensemble. And just when the pummelling seems to have outstayed its welcome, electronic vignettes punch through “Wind Of Exhaustion” to break the piece’s solid mold for the choir on “Ice Made New Kingdom” to up the power even more.
So if the group call themselves THE WATERS OF BASTARDS – that’s what their name means – it’s great that these waters have risen.