Melodic Black Metal • Israel — the ultimate metal music online community, from the creators of
The idea of starting the band came to Seth (guitars) and Celestial (bass) in the summer of 1999. The musical direction, chosen by them was black atmospheric metal, combined with northern folklore elements. Deeply influenced by Scandinavian black metal scene, they were searching for soulmates and in the beginning of 2000 the original line-up was completed. The band called Autumn Palace was born.

Through the next two years Autumn Palace would write new material and record one-song demo "In the Reign of Everfrost". The band sounding of those days was very dark, misty and melancholic, filled up with cold atmospheres of northern lands. Due to the perennial line-up changing, the band disabled to perform live until the end of 2001, when the line-up finally stabilizes and consisted of Z.Winter (vocals), Seth (guitars), Volkh (guitars), Celestial (bass), Morgenrot (keys) and Hesperus (drums).

Shortly after these changes, the band came up with
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WINTERHORDE albums / top albums

WINTERHORDE Nebula album cover 4.00 | 5 ratings
Melodic Black Metal 2006
WINTERHORDE Underwatermoon album cover 4.49 | 10 ratings
Melodic Black Metal 2010
WINTERHORDE Maestro album cover 4.72 | 10 ratings
Melodic Black Metal 2016


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WINTERHORDE Live album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Melodic Black Metal 2002
WINTERHORDE In Traditions of Winter album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
In Traditions of Winter
Melodic Black Metal 2004

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4.50 | 1 ratings
Melodic Black Metal 2013
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Melodic Black Metal 2016

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WINTERHORDE Underwatermoon

Album · 2010 · Melodic Black Metal
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Underwatermoon is Winterhorde's second album, with the Israeli outfit delivering another generous helping of melodic black metal with significant symphonic touches. In principle it's a concept album, though looking over the lyrics I can't figure out the story beyond that it involves ghosts and the ocean - still, the magnificent, big sound they have here is entertaining enough and makes the album a decent dry run for the rather excellent Maestro, the followup, which I personally found a bit more emotionally engaging than this one. Perhaps I'd rate this one a little higher if I hadn't already heard the masterwork that came after it.


Album · 2016 · Melodic Black Metal
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A magnificent melodic black metal concept album with ample symphonic touches. Israel's Winterhorde offer to you Maestro, the tale of a Prague classical musician who finds himself coming under the sway of dark forces. Is this a Black Swan-esque crumbling under the pressures and stresses of performance, or does Satan himself really want the maestro for his unholy orchestra? Either way, the stage is set for a truly infernal conclusion.

To deliver the story Winterhorde fall back on an array of guest musicians, and I especially want to pick out Yulia Stoller's violin contributions for praise, since they really do the trick of providing this fragile, beautiful island of calm in the midst of all this chaos, much like the maestro's music is his escape when all around him is falling apart. But, much like an orchestra, the whole thing is a team effort, and Team Winterhorde certainly put themselves on the black metal leaderboard with this one.


Album · 2016 · Melodic Black Metal
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Likely owing to the amount of line-up changes they've had since the release of their second album Underwatermoon in 2010, Israeli progressive black metal act Winterhorde have certainly made their fans wait for the release of their third album. Entitled Maestro, it was finally released in 2016. It's been out a while now, and it's been clear to me for some time that the wait was definitely worth it, as I love this album. But the more I listen to it I can't help wonder if this won't end up, in hindsight, feeling like a transitional album for the band.

This is still a black metal album, melodic/symphonic black metal specifically, but it sounds to me like Winterhorde are taking steps toward leaving black metal behind in comparison to Underwatermoon. The changing sound of the band is even more evident if you listen to their first album Nebula and Maestro back to back and skip Underwatermoon. This album may bring back Nebula's vocalist Zed “Z. Winter” Destructive to the fold after being replaced by Horeph for Underwatermoon (Horeph still guests on Maestro's title track though) but they've also decided to bring in a second vocalist, Igor "Khazar" Kungurow, to sing clean vocals, probably because Horeph used both cleans and growls, which makes it a very different release to Nebula. While Zed certainly doesn't hold back from using his growls on any of the songs here and the vocals are more or less evenly shared (with a few guests showing up here and there), the album does feel as if it's Zed supporting Igor, who shows himself the surprise star of the album. In extreme metal artists mixing growls and cleans isn't unheard of but the clean singing usually plays second fiddle to the growling and that's not my impression of this album. That the music is also very polished for black metal only furthers my belief that in time, perhaps even on their next album, they'll have left black metal behind and fully embraced a progressive metal sound.

Of course I might be completely wrong about that, but I can only write about my own experience with the album and to be based on how this sounds it seems likely. But whether I'm right or wrong the one thing I'm definitely sure if is that Winterhorde is a class act who've produced another excellent release. It's excellent from start to finish, but the key tracks for me are Worms of Soul, where the band add the distinctive sound of a theremin to their music, the 11:30 long epic The Heart of Coryphee and the brilliant closing track Dancing in Flames.


Album · 2016 · Melodic Black Metal
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Before I get into this review proper I want to explain something to provide a little bit of context: As a reviewer I get a lot of promos from many different sources. Some are from labels. Some are from the artist themselves and some are from promoters who deal with many of both of the above. But regardless of that when you're a solo reviewer as I am, it's unfortunately impossible to review every album sent out, so promos tend to get lumped into one of two groups; the group that looks interesting and gets downloaded and the group that doesn't, and so in turn doesn't get downloaded. However there is a rare third category of promo. The kind that when it arrives invokes an involuntary cry of 'hell yeah!', 'fuck yes!' or similar and not only immediately gets downloaded but also immediately gets listened to, regardless of any plans previously made, including the reviewing of other albums. They do not come along very often. Maestro (2016), the third full-length album by Israel's Winterhorde, is one of these albums.

Let's rewind a few years. It's 2010 and Winterhode have recently released their second album Underwatermoon. A member of the website I used to run back then has just introduced the rest of us to them and the band blew pretty much all of our regulars away. Fast forward back to 2016 though and we find ourselves finally coming to the end of the long wait for Underwatermoon's follow-up, Maestro. A lot has changed within Winterhorde in the six years since the last album, with only two members carrying over between albums, though Maestro does in fact see the return of the band's original vocalist Z. Winter who had been replaced by Horeph on Underwatermoon. Winterhorde have opted to expand their line-up with a second vocalist, Ig Kun, on Maestro though, providing clean vocals against Z. Winter's growls. It's not a shock move as Underwatermoon used a lot of cleans and on Z. Winter's previous outing with Winterhorde, Nebula (2006) they were a much more pure black metal band, something they transcended with Underwatermoon and continue to do with Maestro. There are also some guest female vocals on the album.

Where Underwatermoon was quite a leap forward from the more textbook like Nebula, Maestro feels more like a logical continuation of the progressive black metal sound that Winterhorde made their own previously. While the feel is a little different to Underwatermoon, it's clearly the work of the same band, showing that even with so many changes in line-up that the same musical vision is still intact. Winterhorde is drifting between the melodic and symphonic black metal standards across the album, but it's their use of other elements that really adds their edge, most notably of course their progressive way of writing but also their extensive use of clean vocals and also some less common instruments such as saxophone and theremin. Ig Kun's voice in particular changes the album's sound to that of Underwatermoon a lot as the clean singing on that album had this mournful, sorrowful kind of sound to them which worked well in context of that particular album, but did always come across as me as being a very acquired taste. The clean singing on Maestro however is much more accessible. Ig Kun has this soaring kind of voice that reminds me of when ICS Vortex was in Dimmu Borgir, except used in a more equal measure with the growling vocalist. Not that Dimmu Borgir is an otherwise valid reference when describing Winterhorde. This is many levels above anything I've heard Dimmu Borgir produce.

While Maestro can't replicate that initial wow factor that Underwatermoon gave me, it's still an extremely satisfying album, especially after the long wait between albums. Maestro, unfortunately, seems to have been one of those releases that was delayed quite a few times before finally getting here: I first heard that this album was on its way in 2013, slated for a 2014 release and it's now 2016. Some waits are very much worth it though, and this was definitely one of them. Winterhorde's writing remains as strong as ever, with standouts including the epic title track, Chronic Death and longest song The Heart of Coryphee. In fact it's so good that every time I've listened to it so far I've immediately gone back to the start and listened to it a second time. It's the sort of album that just commands an instant replay because even with a running time of over an hour Maestro just leaves me wanting more. Hopefully Winterhorde doesn't leave it quite so long next time, though with that said if they continue to produce albums as good as Maestro then any wait is worth it.

WINTERHORDE Underwatermoon

Album · 2010 · Melodic Black Metal
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Israeli black metal act Winterhorde really pulled out all the stops for their 2010 sophomore effort Underwatermoon, creating one of the most progressive black metal records I’ve ever heard. I’m a firm believer that you can in fact do pretty much anything with black metal, and Winterhorde show themselves here to be a band that doesn't care about any rules.

You’ll mostly hear melodic/symphonic black metal ideas here to form the base of the album’s sound, but Winterhorde throw in a lot of complex playing too as well as unusual song structures. They draw on folk music a little bit and mix the usual black metal shrieks with deeper, more death metal-like growling as well as clean singing, which ranges from epic to downright mournful. The acoustic guitar playing used is one of the most effective things they do though, creating some great melodies. There’s perhaps no finer example of that than Wreckages Ghost. The individual songs are all amazing (even the interludes are done well) and have their own identities, but Underwatermoon is the sort of album that deserves and commands your attention from beginning to end; to give it anything less really ought to be a criminal offense. I seem to recall people talking about the releases of Alcest and Agalloch as the best black metal albums of 2010, but right here is an album that, at least in my opinion, outshines both of them.


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