Thursday, September 15, 2016

Valhalla - "Winterbastard" [2000]

Artist: Valhalla
Title: Winterbastard
Genre: Black Metal, "Forest Metal"
Country: Russia
Year: 2000

Track List:
  1. Winterbastard
  2. Dreams of Apocalypse
  3. ...Fireshine of Lightnings
  4. Wintry Dreams
  5. Towards the Eternal Unlight ...on Black Wings of Death
  6. Ins Nama'v Great Fyr
  7. Requiem to the Welkin
  8. Starflaming Heart of Ural
  9. Eve of Winterdawn
There's a shitton of bands called Valhalla: alone lists 21 of them (counting the exact matches only). This particular one were pioneers of Urals black metal scene, along with Thy Repentance. I won't bother with writing their history down, because it's already done on their official site. It mentions a demo tape which should be released in winter 2001-2002, but apparently it never was, so this album and the earlier demo "The Wolfish Nocturne" remain Valhalla's only releases.

Today, Valhalla is remembered mostly because Satt aka 121 was in their line-up since autumn 1997. Later he went on founding several other projects including Velehentor, as well as his own webzine where he mostly tears apart shitty obscure black metal releases from all over the world. On "Winterbastard", he mostly plays keyboards, but he also has performed vocals in 3 tracks which were recorded after Valhalla's original vocalist was fired from the band in early 2000.

Musically, it's definitely black metal inspired by Scandinavian bands of the 90s, but the band members themselves preferred to call it "Forest Metal". I can see where they were coming from: "Winterbastard" is too atmospheric and has too much keyboards to be counted as "trve" black metal by 90's standards. Thanks to Satt's keyboard work, at times it sound surprisingly similar to Rakoth's "Planeshift", which also was recorded in late 90s, and features lots of keyboards too. I have no complains about both of the vocalists (Schur and Satt) as neither of them sounds annoying to me (which is often the case with melodic/symphonic black metal, sadly), but my personal favourite on "Winterbastard" is the instrumental epic "Starflaming Heart of Ural". As for the album's name, it's a wordplay which unfortunately was lost in translation.

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