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Winterus - "In Carbon Mysticism" (CD)

Winterus - "In Carbon Mysticism" CD cover image

"In Carbon Mysticism" track listing:

1. Lone Wolves (3:49)
2. Reborn (3:54)
3. No Rest (3:17)
4. Harmonious (3:18)
5. Moonlust (3:25)
6. Eternal Ghost (4:24)
7. Christ Reign (recorded live) (5:03)
8. Dusk Unveils (recorded live) (3:37)
9. Through The Mist (recorded live) (3:25)

Reviewed by on June 16, 2011

"Although the guitar playing has a definite edge up and keeps the energy level running high, overall the album isn’t much different from anything available through a thousand unsigned or lesser known black metal acts."

Let Winterus be a warning to all metal fans that the attention of a record label doesn’t necessarily mean a band is actually better than any of its unsigned counterparts. Debut albums are always going to have a rough patch or two as a band works at finding its footing, but “In Carbon Mysticism” sounds more like an early demo than a polished full-length with the backing of Lifeforce Records. The band has the bleak black metal atmosphere nailed down though, so there’s still a possible strong appeal for those who like their metal dirty and raw.

The arrangement of tracks on “In Carbon Mysticism” seems more geared towards an EP or demo than a full-length. Despite having nine tracks, the whole affair only lasts 34 minutes, and most of the songs are not what can be called “studio quality.” Out of nine sonic offerings from Winterus, three are instrumental, three are recorded live, and all have some sort of ugly production flaw. Frequently the songs have a flat and muted sound, although some listeners may dig the necro orientation there. “Moonlust” is one of the worst of the bunch, with a tinny sound that echoes badly, as though the song were recorded in a small metal box. The live recordings are also as poor in the sound quality department as would be expected.

Intro track “Lone Wolves” starts off promising, even if it does tread overly familiar ground with the baying of wolves and atmospheric guitar work. Winterus handles the opening as good or better than any other black metal act to start off an album the same way, though. A bleak sound combined with repeating guitar riffs almost takes the song into doom territory for a bit, before heading into the real black metal of “Reborn.”

While the tracks tend to stick pretty closely to the Scandinavian black metal formula, the guitar parts generally head off in a thrash direction, which keeps the songs interesting and floating just above the surface in a sea of familiarity. “Harmonious” was chosen for a music video, and as the best cut off the disc it was a solid choice. It hits the right mix of atmosphere with metal mayhem, and for once the low end production works in the song’s favor. “Harmonious” is the sort of track that’s meant to be listened to on a freezing winter night with flickering black candles for companions.

Although the guitar playing has a definite edge up and keeps the energy level running high, overall the album isn’t much different from anything available through a thousand unsigned or lesser known black metal acts. Hopefully Winterus has something more impressive up its sleeve for future releases, because this debut album isn’t impressive enough to distinguish the band from any of its peers in the crowded black metal field.

Highs: The bleak black metal atmosphere is done well, and "Harmonious" manages to make the low quality production work in its favor.

Lows: The sound quality is atrocious for a band signed to a real label, and there are too many instrumental and live tracks.

Bottom line: The bleak atmosphere should appeal to black metal fans, but the overall product isn't any better than albums available from numerous unsigned bands.

Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls
2.5 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)