It’s been close to ten years since the first time I encountered black metal and Satanic Warmaster, with their then-newly released full length Carelian Satanist Madness quickly being one of my favourite black metal records of that time. The focus on the atmospheric elements in their music resulted in an almost surreal listening experience, cumulating in the 2010 release, Nachzehrer. 4 years on, Werwolf returns with their brand new full length effort, Fimbulwinter.
After such a long departure, hearing the first riffs of Fimbulwinter’s Spell felt like home once more. The riffs are powerful as fuck, yet retaining that cold and desolate element that the band has indulged in since its beginnings in 1998. Everything on Fimbulwinter is classic Satanic Warmaster – or rather, Finnish black metal; from the harsh atmospherics that the band has created down to the twin lead guitars that are littered throughout the album.
At the same time, the band has certainly evolved since their last masterpiece. The aggression that is displayed by Werwolf on Fimbulwinter is obvious, as though the 4 years wait since Nachzehrer has stoked the flame of vengeance in him. The fury can be heard on tracks like Funeral Wolves, with the relentless battery that he unleashes on the drums.
Also, like their compatriots Goatmoon, the folk and viking influences are now clearer than before, with the epic and distant-sounding drums in the mix on certain tracks being a nod towards Bathory. Unlike their TNBM counterparts, Satanic Warmaster isn’t afraid to make heavy usage of synths to create beautiful and mysterious backdrops to their music, and moments such as towards the end of Funeral Wolves show the effect of such ingenious usage of the instrument and the songwriting abilities of Werwolf.
Most bands have a certain trademark style that they maintain on every release; things like Archgoat‘s need for a haunting intro, and Satanic Warmaster is no different, with each release thus far having a haunting, yet beautiful closing track. On Fimbulwinter, Silent Call of Moon’s Temples is a complete ambient track, and the soothing effect brings about the Tolkien-inspired Summoning, sure to please fans of epic and atmospheric black metal.
While other Finnish bands such as Behexen have taken a slight change in their musical path, Satanic Warmaster joins bands like Horna and Sargeist in upholding the traditional style of black metal out of the region. Fimbulwinter is an excellent showcase of how Finnish black metal should be, at the same time paying tribute to some of the black metal greats.
1. Fimbulwinter’s Spell
2. Funeral Wolves
4. When Thunders Hail
5. Dragon’s Egg
7. Winter’s Hunger
8. Silent Call of Moon’s Temples
Favourite picks: Funeral Wolves, Dragon’s Egg, Silent Call of Moon’s Temples