Label: Noble Demon
Release date: 8 December 2023
Format reviewed: High-quality Digital Recording
It’s hard for me to say what I’ve enjoyed the most of this album: the dark atmosphere, the great instrumentation, the duality in vocals, the cinematic sound effects… Well, in fact, a combination of everything. Winterhorde has taken me by surprise with “Neptunian” and it was because a few weeks ago I watched their video of the song “The spirit of freedom”, which is really emotional and infectious, in the good sense of course. But the truth is that this song has been living in my head for days. And some parts of the album too, which is amazing.
Winterhorde is a band from Israel and they deliver Melodic Extreme Metal with rich and varied additions to their sound: some progressive elements, a mourning and captivating atmosphere that depicts a cold landscape of emotions and feelings, killer harsh vocals in contrast with the haunting and beautiful clean voice…
Don’t be that surprised if you listen to a trumpet in the opener track, “Amphibia”, ‘cause it just fits so naturally that if it wasn’t there, you’d lack something. And the sound of the violin at the beginning of “The Spirit of Freedom” is, along with the war ambient in the background, the cinematic sound effects and the female soprano vocals, something that takes my breath away. The delicate intro breaks violently and a story starts to be told, with fury, rage, relentless pace and drums that want to destroy everything. Harsh vocals are fantastic in this track, and clean vocals have a role of hope that will lead to a fatal end… Guitars do a great job, melodies are stunning and when lead guitar takes control for a brief moment near the end, that’s of unbearable beauty.
You don’t just listen to the songs in this album, but indeed you can feel them. The stories, the dark atmospheres, the grandeur of the epic moments, for example in the longest track, “Alone in the ocean”; this one is all driven by majestic instrumentation, and very emotional clean vocals. And it has a stellar passage in the middle, when (after a dramatic break) drums are blasting incessantly (that guy has fast feet!), tremolo guitar and bass are the perfect background for a piano melody that is simple but sounds fascinating. And then, when everything slows down again, a melancholy feeling attacks you. Blame it on guitar maybe. Damn great.
And it’s the big amount of details, in my opinion, what makes this album a brilliant one. Just to name a few: the orchestration effects and choruses used at the beginning of “Amphibia”, giving it a sense of grandeur (what a way to start an album!). The perfect union of harsh and clean vocals singing together in “Neptunian (as trident strikes the ice)”, like one voice, wow that’s pure perfection! The predominant sound of bass the first minute of “Angels in disguise”, I love that! Also… the dramatic approach in “A harvester of stars”, woah it feels just like a squeeze in your heart!
Well… I can go on… but as you see, there’s a lot of insanely good details in this album. Just to finish, I’d like to mention the use of acoustic guitar as an intro for the last track, “With bare hands against the Storm”, a song that combines tremolo riffs with a fantastic drum work all along the song, with plenty of changes in the pace, and harsh vocals performed in a very aggressive way.
I’m just amazed by how hard this album has hit me, when the year is about to end. Besides its musical greatness, it has the emotional side, being “Neptunian” one of the most impressive albums when it comes to combining the fury and intensity of Extreme Metal with a very melodic and melancholic offering.
The vinyl version has as a bonus track the song “The greatest plague of Earth”, which was a single released in June 2022 after the band’s six years of silence. It’s a powerful theme, filled with rage and despair and wrapped with majestic sound. The perfect cherry on top of the cake. This is one of the most awesome albums I’ve listened to this year.
The only thing preventing me from rating 10/10 to this is only because “The greatest plague of Earth” is a perfect and round ending for an album, but it’s ONLY a bonus track in the vinyl. It should be in the album, in my opinion. Perfect and awesome music. 9,5/10 Sílvia
9,5/10 Epic Storm
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