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Winterthrall - Stormraven

One of the best underground bands from Southern California quickly follow up their debut album, Nightmares for the Sleepless, with the Stormraven EP. While their debut was relatively straight forward in its raging metal approach, Stormraven explores the more subdued, melancholic, and doomy side of the band. Opening track, “I,” sets the tone with the sound of rain and its acoustic folk guitars followed by a doomy deluge of heaviness. The song also contains strong melancholic melodies, tortured vocals, and a massive feel to it all. Second track, “II,” is a fantastic classical guitar piece - the kind that would make John Zwetsloot smile. “III” opens with a fantastic acoustic section that has a dark metal/folk feel before erupting into the thick lava of middle era KATATONIA-like death/doom metal. The guitar solo that comes in mid-way adds strong charisma to the song. “IV” is probably the song that resembles OPETH the most with its acoustic and electric peaks and valleys. The last song, “V,” ends the release with plenty of despair and emptiness. Stormraven succeeds on many levels, one of which is the strong thread running through each song and how it seamlessly forms a cohesive whole. It’s also great to see the doom and dark metal side to the band. The use of acoustic guitars only adds another dimension to WINTERTHRALL’s musical expression, much like how DISSECTION, OPETH, AGALLOCH, and DARK TRANQUILLITY have all utilized acoustic guitars to great success. With two solid releases under their belt, it will very interesting to see where WINTERTHRALL decide to take the listener on their next release. (self-released)