The first thing that strikes you about this self-released debut full-length offering from this French five piece is it’s lavish packaging – stunning artwork on a highly professionally produced gatefold sleeve, and a well-designed lyric booklet. They’ve obviously put a lot of work into it.
But, that’s entirely understandable, given the quality of what lies within, as the music is equally as lavish and as stylish as what is wrapped around the little silver disc containing it, with 12 tracks and almost 70 minutes of ambitious, symphonic black metal to stir even the darkest of hearts.
Opening with a growing swell of keyboards, the band quickly set out their stall on ‘A Mirror’s Game’: crushing guitar riffs crashing against and contrasting with huge symphonic backdrops, and evil vocals spewing straight from the depths of hell, demonic blastbeats so fast even Usian Bolt would struggle to keep up, sweeping instrumental interludes – everything you could ask from a Cradle Of Filth (and vocalist Vorender certainly would give the boul’ Dani a run for his money in the Satanic summoning stakes) or Dimmu Borgir album…
It’s certainly brutal stuff – the pace is virtually unrelenting throughout – but it’s also majestic – and exciting. Every single one of the songs is brilliantly constructed and the performances, especially by guitarist Kyll and drummer Shainsaw (sic), are simply stunning. Keyboard player Terias blends nicely into the orchestral and choral backdrops, which never once sound over the top, overblown or pompous, but fitting perfectly into the overall concept, the themes and the feel of the material.
This is a well thought out, highly accomplished debut by a group who, with it, have already sealed their place in the pantheon of symphonic black metal demi-gods.
A well-deserved 9/10.
‘The Mind Cave’ is available from the band’s website: www.winterburst-official.com
If you want to sample the album before you decide, the track ‘Insanitarium’ is streaming here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tkN3ZgKmjYk