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3.64 | 6 ratings | 2 reviews
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Album · 1990

Filed under Death-Doom Metal


1. Oppression Freedom / Oppression (reprise) (5:56)
2. Servants of the Warsmen (4:23)
3. Goden (8:18)
4. Power and Might (2:43)
5. Destiny (8:30)
6. Eternal Frost (6:47)
7. Into Darkness (9:24)

Total Time: 46:05


- John Alman / Vocals, Bass
- Stephen Flam / Guitars
- Joe Goncalves / Drums
- Tony Pinnisi / Additional Keyboards

About this release

Released by Future Shock.

Released by Nuclear Blast for Europe in 1992. Re-released in 1999 by Nuclear Blast and in 2008 by Metal Mind together with the Eternal Frost Ep.

Thanks to Prog Geo, Lynx33, adg211288 for the updates


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Winter came to my attention while watching the Lock Horns episode on Death / Doom. They only released a single LP, which was not really appreciated as much as it should have been at the time, according to the CD re-release booklet. However, in later years, Winter's music seems to have attracted more attention.

Hailing from Long Island, New York, the band was part of the underground hardcore scene, though their style of music contrasted greatly with the speed and raw aggression of most contemporary acts in the area. Nevertheless, Winter often played at hardcore festivals (I think they were actually called "squats" or "sit-ins" because they were generally held in basement venues and were not particularly glorious by any measure) and music events to raise public awareness about social issues.

It's interesting to imagine some sweaty, gungey underground club scene with all these hardcore types facing the stage as Winter walks on and proceeds to play extremely slow, bitterly ominous, and very heavy doom. If they opened their set with "Oppression Freedom / Opression (reprise)", their audience would slowly be bludgeoned into mind-numbing submission, slaves and captives to utter disparity and gloom. The whole purpose of that track seems to be to hammer one over the consciousness with a giant iron, rubber-coated mallet.

After this though, the secret behind Winter's approach becomes apparent: somebody was listening to "Morbid Tales" and "To Mega Therion" an awful lot. The deep vocals, the choice of vocabulary, the enunciation of the words along with the use of slow, heavy power chords is so derivative of Celtic Frost that you might be believe CF was the only band these guys ever listened to. Even the guitar solo style and very occasional leap in speed sound like Celtic Frost's most ominous, forbidding, and gloom-inducing songs. This for me seems to underscore Celtic Frost's influence on the death / doom scene. As if to corroborate my conjecture about Winter's mentors, they even named their EP "Eternal Frost".

Winter have not exactly ripped off Celtic Frost. There are no covers which would have been too obvious, and of course they are their own individual selves. The choice to play even slower or add some sparse, atmospheric keyboards make them somewhat different from Celtic Frost. Still, I don't think anyone familiar with the famous Swiss band would fail to notice the similarities.

That aside, it is a well-recorded album. The sound is full and warm, if you can use the term warm in the same sentence as Winter's music. It's above lo-fi making it easy to appreciate the music, but not crisp and sharp, which would have taken something away.

I give this album three and a half stars because it delivers what the musicians intended but doesn't come across as particularly original (am I hearing some My Dying Bride in here as well now?). For really slow, gloomy, ominous music, it could be worth checking out.
Winter embody every negative aspect of the season they name themselves after: the coldness, the darkness, and the immaculate freezing blanket that covers the ground day and night. Speaking as someone who lives in New York, where this band originates from, the winters here are nothing to scoff about. Though perhaps not as gruelingly whittling as Winter may make it out to be, it ain't fun, in simple terms. So why not make an album about it? I can only presume that Winter's 1990 debut Into Darkness is that album. Maybe.

Doom metal is a genre that fits well with a theme of winter because of it's ability to convey the aforementioned somber themes particularly well. However where the true magic comes from is the fusion of death metal in the mix to make it a truly hallowing release. The muddied, very lo-fi guitar of Stephen Flam (whom I heard of funnily enough with his work with the obscure industrial outfit Thorn in 1995) contrasts beautifully yet unsettlingly with the scanty, spacey keyboards by Tony Pinnisi. This comes mainly from the post-punk, college-like recording quality of Into Darkness, which walks just on the edge of being black metal levels of quality and professional, clean cut work. It really makes the album shift around at times, especially when it comes to either having the different instruments meld into a single, trudging unit or when it comes time for things like the vocals to stick out from the rest. The rollicking drums of Joe Gonclaves are perhaps the best part of the mix, having a modest yet not an overbearing amount of fills at any particular time, yet still having a massive weight to them any time they're prominent.

My personal favorite parts of this album come from the tracks like 'Goden', where bassist John Alman's death-like gut-bellows (which I like so much because they don't sound as silly as one might think) coincide fantastically with the droning guitar and bass and the previously mentioned rolling drumming. This especially works on one of my favorite tracks, 'Destiny', where the pace is kicked up a notch into grooving trot. This as well as interspersed returns to a slow, doomy atmosphere lend this song and the album as a whole to be wonderfully quick-witted and able to keep you on your feet and interested. On the flip-side though many of Into Darkness' slow parts are its weak points- sometimes the hard-to-tell-apart-the-instruments recording style of the album makes the slow parts almost mediocre in a way, at least when vocals aren't there to lend a hand. Some of these slow parts have a minimalist style that broadside harshly with the complex stuff that either precede or succeed them, making them sound pretty misplaced and often misused. In all though these negative areas are few-and-far-between and rarely deter the fun and enjoyable ones.

Winter, in my honest opinion, is a much better example of good death-doom than many of their contemporaries (yes, maybe even My Dying Bride). Definitely a stellar release deserving of much more attention.

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