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Winter - "Into Darkness (reissue)" (CD)

Winter - "Into Darkness (reissue)" CD cover image

"Into Darkness (reissue)" track listing:

1. Oppression Freedom/Reprise
2. Servants of the Warsmen
3. Goden
4. Power and Might
5. Destiny
6. Eternal Frost
7. Into Darkness

Reviewed by on March 31, 2011

"There are other death/doom albums superior to “Into Darkness.” However, this album deserves much credit as a pioneering force in the field of down-tempo death metal."

Doom metal authority Southern Lord Records is the fourth label to reissue Winter’s doom metal monolith “Into Darkness.” First released via Future Shock Records, Nuclear Blast brought the most attention to this recording with its 1992 reissue. Released during a time when death metal bands were vying for the fastest-band-in-the-world tag, Winter slowed the pace down to a crawl and helped usher in a new take on death metal—death/doom metal.

Just like the pace that comprises most of “Into Darkness,” the action builds gradually on album opener “Oppression Freedom (Reprise).” Guitar effects and a cascade of cymbals crack and splinter the silence. At around the 30-second mark, the band drops the hammer (Thor’s), letting huge guitar chords ring ominously in a manner only emulated by doom metal. These chords fill in the pause between each drumbeat. Even the double bass moves lethargically, allowing the listener to hear each pit-a-pat.

There is something apocalyptic about the tones and rhythms found on “Into Darkness.” Stephen Flam makes a hard bend of his strings, which add a strain of wickedness to these forbidden tones. Flam’s twisted string manipulations and Joe Goncalves’ drum rolls mark warped fill-ins between riffs on “Goden.” He takes a similar approach to the menacing tones of “Power and Might,” but adds a Sabbath-like hammer on. Short bouts of fiery feedback and low-lying keyboards further help visualize the band’s dreary images.

Although dawdling tempos characterize “Into Darkness,” the album has its fast(er) moments. “Servants of the Warsmen” and the first part of “Destiny” show the band switch into second gear and hit the mid-paced stride of Celtic Frost and Bolt Thrower. Here, listeners will discover possibly the slowest D-beat on earth. The Celtic Frost influence is strong; even John Alman’s voice is like a hulked out Tom Warrior.

There are other death/doom albums superior to “Into Darkness.” However, this album deserves much credit as a pioneering force in the field of down-tempo death metal. Moreover, while certain features may draw comparisons, there is no band truly like Winter. Noisy elements and magical keyboards are usually an odd pairing, but it works here. Any album with four re-releases, the last being 21 years after the original, is nothing short of classic!

Highs: "Into Darkness" features massive riffs, heavy tones, weird effects and growled-yet-lyrically-discernable vocals.

Lows: The album moves excruciatingly slow.

Bottom line: A classic, groundbreaking death/doom metal album.

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 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)