Winterfylleth - The Mercian Sphere
Black Metal
10 songs (68:25)
Release year: 2010
Winterfylleth, Candlelight
Reviewed by Kyle

It does my heart good to hear a second album from a band that improves on the first in every possible aspect. Winterfylleth has done this wonderfully with The Mercian Sphere. Perhaps this wasn’t much of a feat - The Ghost of Heritage is a very good album, but also one that was without much variation among songs – but here, this promising English quartet delivers an album that ranks among the better black metal releases of 2010, expanding their sound with a larger folk influence and a healthy dose of post-black-isms.

Talentwise, the members of Winterfylleth are in their prime on The Mercian Sphere. The drumming in particular is especially impressive, varied enough so that blastbeats aren’t churning through your speakers for sixty-eight minutes, and that even when blastbeats are a dominating force, the cymbal work is diverse enough to keep you interested. The two guitarists are almost always performing perfectly executed tremolo harmonies, which make even the most simple of riffs pleasing to the ears. Vocals on this album are at times unfitting with Winterfylleth’s style and perhaps a bit too in-your-face, but other than their loudness in the mix, The Mercian sphere is well produced, though perhaps not as raw as I would prefer.

With a sound that plays out like a comfortable blend of Drudkh, Wodensthrone and a touch of Hammerheart-era Bathory, this is still recognizably the same Winterfylleth that appeared on The Ghost of Heritage. Songs are very heavy on blastbeats, harsh vocals, and jangling low-end riffs; however, with The Mercian Sphere, the band also focuses more on acoustic guitar passages, and while the expected (and MUCH improved) instrumental folk tracks are in place, songs like The Ruin and the phenomenal The Honour of Good Men On the Path to Eternal Glory incorporate traditional acoustic segments amongst the black metal bits, making for a nice balance that highlights both Winterfylleth’s love for black metal and their pride in their Anglo-Saxon heritage. And thanks to a newfound penchant for post-black melodies and a greater number of riffs per song, the band now truly runs the gamut of emotions, from somber folk to blackened intensity to mellow, modern, mid-paced sections. Sometimes The Mercian Sphere can surprisingly enough come across as a catchy album, in a way that is rather rare for a pagan metal release, but it makes for an original and welcome experience.

For Winterfylleth, everything here seems to be in just the right place; The songs are diverse and the songwriting is in top shape, and whereas the band fell into a rut on The Ghost of Heritage due to a few directionless songs, The Mercian Sphere is a solid album from beginning to end. The tracks move fast enough to ensure that the album refrains from growing stale (seriously, is atmospheric black metal supposed to feature this many riffs per song?), and while normally sixty-eight minutes of this brand of black metal would be painful to endure, The Mercian Sphere blazes through its running time much, much quicker than one would expect. From the beginning of their career I had hoped that Winterfylleth would be a band that is able to intelligently evolve, and my hopes were not in vain as this album quickly proves, and I hope they keep progressing in the future and establish themselves as one of the most pleasantly forward-thinking bands the genre has to offer. A safe buy for nearly every black metal fan, The Mercian Sphere is epic, melodic, atmospheric, catchy, and crushing, and is assuredly one of my favorite BM releases of the year.

Killing Songs :
Kyle quoted 90 / 100
Other albums by Winterfylleth that we have reviewed:
Winterfylleth - The Reckoning Dawn reviewed by Goat and quoted 85 / 100
Winterfylleth - The Dark Hereafter reviewed by Andy and quoted 84 / 100
Winterfylleth - The Divination of Antiquity reviewed by Jared and quoted 85 / 100
Winterfylleth - The Threnody of Triumph reviewed by Goat and quoted 72 / 100
Winterfylleth - The Ghost Of Heritage reviewed by James and quoted 86 / 100
0 readers voted
You did not vote yet.
Vote now

There are 7 replies to this review. Last one on Wed Sep 08, 2010 5:14 pm
View and Post comments