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Windfaerer - "Solar" (CD/EP)

Windfaerer - "Solar" CD/EP cover image

"Solar" track listing:

1. The Mortal Flare (2:33)
2. A Glimpse Of Light (6:15)
3. Worlds Of The Self (5:11)
4. Blackened Voids (6:30)
5. A Moura Encantada (1:50)
6. In The Shadows Of Giants (7:44)
7. The Morning Star (5:32)

Reviewed by on August 13, 2012

"'Solar' is a stellar EP destined to be an underground smash to those who love everything black metal."

“Solar” is the first EP from New Jersey black metal group Windfaerer, which made a good impression with their 2010 debut “Tribus.” Though labeled as an EP, listeners can expect over 35 minutes of music of a grandiose direction. It’s an extra amount of content for a medium not known to be defined in that way. The two years between releases have been kind to Windfaerer, as “Solar” is an impressive display of folk-centric black metal.

Windfaerer has become well-adapted to the kind of music that feels like each song is going on a cross-country journey. The scope of these songs has been tinkered with, and while “Tribus” did embark on some wonderful adventures within “Oestriminis” and “The Seafaerers' Legend,” this EP feels grander by comparison. Even the two-minute instrumental “A Moura Encantada” seems headed into the path of a tall tale worthy of inclusion in a J. R. R. Tolkien novel.

Though “A Moura Encantada” is a splendid acoustic piece, opening instrumental “The Mortal Flare” is far more direct with its hard-hitting blows. It’s not the best way to open up the EP, feeling more like extra clips that were left on the cutting floor than a slowly-forming tidal wave. “A Glimpse Of Light” fixes this indiscretion with expert riffage and drumming that borders on psychotic. Vocalist Michael Goncalves has a hoarse scream that is befitting of the music, and his guitar style is very slick. Add in his bass playing, and Goncalves handles his own on the musical side of “Solar.”

The violin, performed by Benjamin Karas, is a different story. It’s usually understated in the music, though always having some amount of presence. Some of the absolute poignant moments on “Solar” are when Karas gets a solo section to display his skills, like the clean break on “Blackened Voids.” The violin isn’t the defining musical attribute to “Solar,” as Goncalves gets in a couple of strong leads on “The Morning Star” and “Worlds Of The Self.” There’s enough behind the static to make this more than just a basement-level black metal EP.

“Solar” is a stellar EP destined to be an underground smash to those who love everything black metal. It’s not as dense and lifeless as much of the genre, with the violins and acoustic guitars helping to provide some levity to the EP. Though “The Mortal Flare” is a dubious start for “Solar,” the rest of the EP makes up for that tiny misstep. “Tribus” was a great start for Windfaerer, and “Solar” continues the evolution of the band towards a forceful black metal outfit.

Highs: Black metal with a folksy undertone, each song has a lot of substance behind it, effective violin work, melodic dynamics built into each song.

Lows: Timid opener almost takes the EP off the rails

Bottom line: Following a strong debut album, "Solar" is another example of the talent belonging to the members behinds Windfaerer.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)