There’s nothing better than listening to a demo of a band from someone you know is talented. There’s a rush of adrenaline when you hear the first power chord on the guitar, a surge of power in your gut. When you see someone’s talents being used, or in this case hear someone’s talents being used, in new ways it’s exciting. I got to experience that exhilaration recently with Wintercrown’s debut demo, Frozen Realm.
If you’ve followed them, you know that Wintercrown is one of many projects of Danthor Wildcrow, the man behind one of my favorite finds in 2016: Rive. Where Rive was a very minimalistic, very depressive black metal, Wintercrown is very atmospheric blackened death metal. It’s not a complete 180 but it’s pretty darn close, the two genres don’t share a lot of sound with each other. I loved Rive, and I know Wildcrow was a talented multi-instrumentalist, the kind that you know can pretty much come up with anything. When he first told me about Wintercrown I was excited, the bar was already set high (maybe unreasonably high but goddammit I like what I like). And I was not disappointed. Wintercrown is part of that weird subgenre I’ve heard rumors about called “Winter Metal.” What the hell is winter metal? That’s why I asked. Apparently winter metal is any sort of genre of metal that deals specifically with winter, cold environments, and snow and ice. It’s more than that though, Darkthrone in all their icy winter lyrics are not winter metal, nor should they be. So then still, what the fuck is winter metal? It’s the atmosphere, it’s the ambience that surrounds the music, it’s the entire soundscape and the way it plays with the mind, it’s the cold icy sound that makes the listener feel like it’s actually cold. It’s not a genre that just anyone can master. Wintercrown did. They knocked it out of the fucking park!
Wintercrown is a cold, icy atmospheric band whose metal subgenre shifts between black and death effortlessly, using iconography and esthetics from both genres to forge something that is neither. The guitars are absolutely phenomenal, the tuning and the tone of the guitars is perfect. The sound is icy and thin but it has substance, it cuts like an icy wind but also threatens to blow you over. It’s powerful. The drums are solid, a battery of sound that refuses to let up. The combination of just those two reminded me a lot of Dissection and the way the guitars and drums would work together to create a single sound rather than mixing two separate sounds. I absolutely loved it.
The vocals are pretty bloody good as well, they’re more a roar than a growl but they are animalistic, and terrifying. The sound of the vocals is something akin to the howling of the wolves on the cold winter nights. It’s beautiful but scary at the same time, one cannot help but feel a sense of awe and dread when you listen to the vocals. They are perfect for this demo and this style of play. They add depth to a painting that is already amazing. Seriously if Wintercrown had forgone vocals in favor of just the music on the demo I would have been satisfied, convinced that this was a band to be reckoned with. With vocals? Well shit is it Christmas again so soon? They add detail, nuance, volume and depth. Remember Opeth’s growling vocals? I know it’s been a while since they were really used. Remember Ghost of Perdition? That’s the sort of power in these vocals, they are strong but full of emotional range.
This demo is a thing of beauty that cannot be missed. If this is just a demo, then the full length album will be absolutely mind blowing. Demos like this don’t come around often, nor should they be treated like just another demo when you do find them. Cherish this, listen to it over and over again until you’ve memorized it, until you feel the music in your bones and blood. I want a full length Wintercrown album, I want a three-hour live set, I want a behind the scenes DVD, but for now I will be happy with this demo. And you will too, I promise.
Listen and support!