This is a new review by a new member of the tf zine! His name is Stephen Latimer and I welcome him to the underground writing club! Check out his new review on Appalachian Winters latest s/t album! -Danny
‘Appalachian Winter’ was (but wasn’t) what I was expecting, to be a Doom record. And in some aspects, it has some traits what I’d expect to be on a Doom record: melancholy, slight sense of hopelessness, covered greatly in haunting second tack, “Night”. Great sense of valor and victory, and triumphant gleam is also on this record, displayed on the third track “Winter”. In fact, on this song, after a trumpet and piano intro, the guitar bursts in to a marching battle anthem that can only be characterized as riding Falkor the luck dragon into a Narnia sized battle, marching into a frozen Mordor.
The composure of this record is riddled with fantastical audio sensations, which could in fact be shelved right alongside Immortal’s ‘At The Heart of Winter” with its sonic imagery. At times, parts do reflect some black metal sounds, like the frostbitten track “Ice”. In fact, this album feels more frostbitten than probably 80% of the Norwegian albums I’ve heard. Though, it would be farfetched to actually claim Appalachian Winter as a sole black metal project. It does seem too broad in certain portions to say solidly it’s a black metal project, regardless of how umbrella that term can be (Also has some amazing pagan metal flavors, with a Pan style flute on the song “Wolfghosts”). Case in point, in the starting track “Solstice”, smack dab in the middle of the song is a delectable Blind Guardian vocal play, underlined by a soprano falsetto, Tim “Ripper” Owens style; too much power metal for a solid black metal album. With an eclectic juxtaposition, this is definitely a progressive effort to blend several different metal traits in to a lethal injection of serendipity.
On a few objections that certainly do not take away from the album, are as follows. Firstly, some of the synth work is too noticeable, mainly in some of the drum works. On a high note, it adds to the surrealism to the speedy bits. Secondly, I’m never too fond of recycled material within an album. I feel that has been downfalls to Metallica (ReLoad), Slayer (90’s portion of career), and Judas Priest (who’s actually guilty of recycling their entire career on Angel of Retribution). After a good portion of each song, “Solstice” and “Solitude”, actually sounds like they’re the exact same song. On a high note they’re the first and last tracks, and actually make a story come complete circle, which in my opinion makes the best ending to any story regardless of media. Also, a few arrangements almost seem cut and paste, however deliver the exact same emotion every time to give the same joyous feeling to deliver the story to its fullest.
As a full set this album is a total package. It starts off majestically, and sways its crystalized and nocturne magic into a spellbinding wonder. Its climax or what I’d figure to be the start of the B-side, “Mountain”, is a wonderful ode to some great classical and romantic composers. I was greatly expecting it to be followed up by the heaviest and fastest song, but tragically goes into probably my least favorite track “Winds”, which gets way to folky, and not the heathenish style…well then again, I’ve only heard European styles, and “Winds” is very American folky. That could actually be deemed as American Heathen Metal. Regardless of what you may want to call this true genuine masterwork, I would never want to call Appalachian Winter a virtuoso act. It’s not about the “what I can do”, but “what I can imagine”. And there’s a great deal of self-respect in that, playing a marionette to tell a life story. Virtuoso is like looking a realism art, whereas what Appalachian Winter does is “Spider-Man issue #1”.
1. Solstice 10:41
2. Night 08:23
3. Winter 07:35
4. Wolfghosts 06:33
5. Ice 06:33
6. Mountain 04:32 instrumental
7. Wind 05:47
8. Forever 04:05
9. Solitude 06:33
Free downloads at of entire discography at http://www.mediafire.com/?qwvfnuv62641n