Welicoruss – Wintermoon Symphony
I have always been of the school of thought that the geographical home of a band is very important to the overall effect produced by its music, and as such, Welicoruss had me intrigued on first glance. Hailing from the west-Siberian city of Novosibirsk, they play a brand of symphonic metal that is perhaps as enigmatic as their home itself; divided between the European pomp of Russian city life and the vastness of the Siberian taiga, their sound is every bit as wild as it is glorious.
It is the conflict between these two forces – the civilized and the wild, the human and the animal, the collective and the individual – that makes Welicoruss’ debut, entitled Wintermoon Symphony, the unique experience that it is. Stylistically, it is quite the mix; while Metal Archives classifies Welicoruss as “Symphonic Black Metal,” the only overtly “black” element is the vocal style. Other than that it exists somewhere in the middle of everything, as a relatively nondescript style of metal infused with generous helpings of symphonic bombast and folky playfulness.
On a more mechanical level, Wintermoon Symphony is a solid recording. The production is clear and balanced, the vocals are good if not unique, and the music remains interesting throughout. It is not a very technical record, nor is it overly complex, but it never becomes tiresome. Perhaps the best word to describe the composition is “tasteful;” many elements – from string sections and choirs to flutes and the occasional female vocals – are employed throughout the album, but all are used sparingly, so as to contribute to the metal without becoming a gimmick.
The only downside to the album is that little of it is memorable by itself. Wintermoon Symphony seems to suffer from the same problem that plagues many albums written in the same style: the atmosphere and energy of the music at any given point is great, but there are few moments or melodies that truly stand out in the mind of the listener. On their 2009 EP Apeiron they would begin to amend this, but at the moment they had little in the way of memorability.
Ultimately, the appeal of Wintermoon Symphony lies in its duality. At times it finds the band marching for glory and at times it finds them running wild and untamed through the forest. Perhaps the best way to descibe it would be “quintessentially Russian;” the majesty of the cites in both tension and tandem with the vastness of the wilderness, all backlit by a fierce sense of national pride and a famously inhospitable climate. It’s certainly not a perfect record, but it’s a worthy release by a promising band.
Tom’s Rating: 3.5 out of 5