Wolfheart - Winterborn

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Vocals, Guitar, Bass, Drums - Tuomas Saukkonen "Winterborn" is, at the risk of severe hyperbole, a masterwork. Tuomas Saukkonen has composed and orchestrated a work that is as layered and complex as The Winter itself. Yet he's managed to do it in such a way that it is simultaneously simple, beautiful, and brutal. Saukkonen combines death, doom, black, and folk into a frozen, swirling storm. Picking (sub)genres out is easy sport but largely worthless, as this disc puts all to good use. The acoustic instruments and clean singing provide needed respite from the winds. The advancing and receding thrum of tremolo guitars and intermittently blasting drums sometimes drown and sometimes abandon the barren melodies. Even Saukkonen's harsh vocals aspire to more than violence - they are clearly powerful, but being mixed so far back they struggle to gain purchase with the rest of the instrumentation, a metaphor to be sure. The brilliance, however, is in the feeling, the atmosphere. "Winterborn" is completely enveloping - it dominates.