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(Spinefarm Records)

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Jools Green


Finland's melodic death Metal quartet Wolfheart was originally a solo project created by Tuomas Saukkonen after he disbanded all his other projects, which included Black Sun Aeon, Before The Dawn and Dawn Of Solace, on which he covered the all writing duties and most of the instruments.

The line-up has been expanded to include Lauri Silvonen (Casket) on bass, Joonas Kauppinenn, who was also involved with Before The Dawn covering drums and Mika Lammassaari (Eternal Tears Of Sorrow) on lead guitar.

This debut full length, 'Winterborn', originally released independently but now re-launched by Spinefarm Records, is an eleven track offering encompassing fifty eight minutes including a previously released single, 'The Hunt' and sound-wise has that unmistakable, mournful quality associated with death Metal bands from Finland, reminiscent of early Insomnium or Swallow The Sun but with a dirtier, colder edge, encompassing many elements of his previous projects and with lyrical subjects of winter, wolves, warriors, bloodshed, battle and melancholy.

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Add to this a good balance of melody and aggression, some superb rasping death Metal vocals that have a good degree of comprehensibility, the overall combination of which creates a lot of atmosphere and captures perfectly, that dark cold bleakness of a Scandinavian winter.

The album begins with the previously mentioned single, 'The Hunt', opening with melancholic beauty and building gradually, allowing you to really savour the moment, not reaching full intensity until midway, with superb guitars towards the close.

This isn't an album where you will have strong favourites as all are well crafted compositions that have been equally well delivered and are able to stand alone in their own right. There is something different and enjoyable about every track here.

'Strength And Valour' has faster punchier tempo to open but with a reflectively melancholic second half that is hugely moving.


One of the two longer, seven minute tracks 'Routa Pt.2' opens on a mournful cello, building slowly with intense riffing and deliberate drumbeats, acoustic folk edged elements with superb mid-point guitars, the other longer track being 'Chasm', with its acoustic opener which expands out with superb riffing, is on the whole a slower, reflective and melancholic track also with a slight folk atmosphere, the pace picking up midway for a brief solo.

Aside from the noteworthy drum work on 'Gale Of Winter' Tuomas' vocals have an icier than normal chill here which contrasts well alongside the melodic element. 'Whiteout' switches nicely between the bleak and the melodic throughout its length with a particularly haunting midpoint guitar solo while 'Ghost Of Karelia' contrasts hugely to it is predecessor because it has such an intense, in your face opener and is one of the more up tempo tracks with an excellent crushing, dirty edge but still allowing for the melody to break through periodically, a track that is sublimely heavy.

Taking on an almost doom like edge in places, 'I' also has that folk tinge and wonderfully melancholic closing guitars. Opening on acoustic guitars, 'Breathe' is a unique track in so much as it stands out as the only one with some of its lyrics in Finnish towards its close.

Penultimate track 'Isolation' is the calm before the storm, a reflective instrumental overlaid with cello and acoustic guitar. There is some superb guitar work across the length of the release but one minute in on the mid paced, final track, 'Into The Wild', is arguably the best of the release, a track which intensifies as it progresses with a repeat haunting melody that keeps an interesting edge until the close.

'Wolfheart' was recorded by Aleksanteri Kuosa who also provided extra guitar work on Tuomas' former project Before The Dawn. Anyone who likes Insomnium, Swallow The Sun or similar Finnish bands should find this an excellent listen and given the quality of Tuomas' previous endeavours the best of Wolfheart is still yet to come; this is just the beginning...

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