(In this post Austin Weber reviews the forthcoming fourth album by a Dutch band with an eye-catching new line-up — Winter of Sin.)
Lately I’ve been craving a fist-pumping metal album, the kind that kicks your ass from the first minute and never relents (save for maybe one tiny little breather, the almost required instrumental break). Very recently I was allowed to hear such a glorious album, by a decade-and-a-half-old melodic black/death metal band from The Netherlands called Winter Of Sin, whose line-up now includes two former members of the sorely missed God Dethroned.
I freely admit to not having heard the band’s prior albums so I can’t say how this compares, but I can confidently say that on its own merits Violence Reigns Supreme is the sort of album whose high consistency and powerful energy make it hard not to replay frequently. Beyond the relentless nature of their music, they get an extra boost from the cancerous, throaty screams and stout mid-paced growls of God Dethroned mastermind Henri Sattler. His howled proclamations cover these unholy hymns with a pained damnation that adds materially to the experience.
Right from the start, opener “Astral Death Reign Algorithm” sets the tone and palette of the album: Wailing, sinewy black metal interlocks with melodic bursts and fiery buzzsaw death metal riffs — supplemented by thrash undertones, accented by sinister leads, and topped off with a coating of orchestral flourishes. All these ingredients are smashed together into a deadly union of speed and finesse, a sleekly crafted vehicle designed for the purpose of superior serrated destruction.
From there it just gets better with “Maelstrom”, the song that got me into this album, and it’s a catchy, high-octane blastfest you don’t want to miss. Then the third track, “Eternal Winter”, delves heavily into the band’s thrashier side while still staying close to their swarming black metal base.
This is definitely the sort of speed-addled metal album that needs an instrumental breather, a moment to slow down from the constant onslaught and frenzied spraying of blast beats all over the place (by ex-God Dethroned drummer Michiel van der Plicht). Track six “Virus” does a fine, folky job filling this need, with simple acoustic melodies that repeat to cascading, hypnotic effect. It’s an altogether warm and effective pause before the last four tracks mercilessly fill your ears with a final volley of high-quality berzerker storms.
Toward the end of the album, Winter of Sin unleash their thrashier inclinations again on “Unleash Mayhem”. It’s a fine ode to violence that also disperses a plague of lethal black metal riffs, jabbing at the listener in rapid succession like a downpour of arrows. To conclude things, the slow intro build of “BioMechanoid” sets the correct closing tone: epic. It’s largely a chugging, mid-paced laceration that incorporates the empowering feel of a ballad, calling to mind Amon Amarth even though it doesn’t quite sound like them per se.
If you want an album that rages, and almost never relents nor dips in consistency, Violence Reigns Supreme is a worthy answer to that desire. It’s hatefully triumphant in an invigorating way that asks you to relish carnage and cruelty. Or sitting on the couch with this in your ears. Whatever excites you.
Violence Reigns Supreme is scheduled for release by Cyclone Empire on March 28. The wonderful cover art was created by Juanjo Castellano. It’s recommended for fans of Naglfar, God Dethroned, Dissection, Unanimated, and Destroyer 666. Stream “Maelstrom” below.