With a name like Winterthrone and an album title like The Godslayer, it should be immediately made clear that black metal is the name of the game here. Although this one-man German act does not entirely stick to the 'raw' black metal formula, this assumption is by and large pretty accurate - aside from a generous dosage of symphonic overtones, the furious, blast-beat filled torrent of early Norwegian black metal is what should be expected from The Godslayer. Winterthrone does succeed at bringing melodic keyboards into the realm of old school black metal, but unfortunately this album does suffer from a few flaws that keep my enjoyment somewhat limited.
If you're familiar with symphonic black metal from the likes of Astrofaes or even the earliest works from Dimmu Borgir, you'll get a decent idea of the raw-styled melodic approach that Winterthrone subscribes to. I think Winterthrone veers into Darkthrone and Mayhem territory (and even occasionally mildly avant-garde sounding sections) a bit more than the aforementioned acts, but The Godslayer ultimately sounds like melodic elements brought into raw black metal, rather than the more 'polished' sound of many other symphonic black metal acts. Although it does give Winterthrone a slightly more original (albeit not groundbreaking) style, it does come at a bit of a cost. For one, the production here is pretty atrocious, and while this kind of lo-fi approach can work for bands like Darkthrone, the music of Winterthrone is much too involved and complex to warrant such a shoddy sound quality. It does give the album a somewhat 'creepy' atmosphere, but I doubt that this kind of atmosphere couldn't have been achieved with a proper production. The cold atmospheres are even occasionally killed by the cheap sounding production, and I do honestly believe that a cleaner sound quality is the way to go for Winterthrone on future efforts.
In spite of its flaws, however, The Godslayer does deserve to be checked out by fans of black metal with melodic overtones. While the delivery may not always sound perfect, the compositions are actually quite good, and Steffen Brückner (the sole member of Winterthrone) is a very talented instrumentalist. The complexity of the guitar and keyboard bits here is unique by most black metal standards, and the melodic-tinged songwriting is always professional and well-done. I think The Godslayer could've been a much better album with a few minor adjustments, but as it stands, this is still a pretty decent effort.