WINTER — Into Darkness (review)

WINTER — Into Darkness album cover Album · 1990 · Death-Doom Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
3.5/5 ·
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.
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