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Live Review: WINTERFYLLETH London, UK 26/03/2011

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By: Nina Saeidi

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Hailing (quite literally) from the un-exotic depths of Manchester, WINTERFYLLETH are famed for their beautiful atmospheric black metal and infamous for their nationalistic appreciation of British anglo-saxon heritage. The UK band have no excuse for the controversy they have caused with such lyrics as these from 'The Ghost of Heritage’ off their 2007 demo The Rising of the Full Winter Moon:

Thence shall they descend,
Into the plain,
To decide the fate,
Of a great battle,
And save our homeland,
From the thieving hands,
Of the infidel.

Hence their free London show at The Devonshire Arms,  a tiny pub tucked away in a corner of Camden Town caused quite a stir within the ranks of music fans. Some rejoiced, some frowned and others polished their shaven heads in preparation for a night of potential racial tension and extreme metal.

Scottish black metallers Cnoc An Tursa confused the crowd at around seven pm with several false starts under the disguise of a very loud soundcheck in a very small room. However, once things had kicked off Cnoc An Tursa proved themselves to be a worthy support band with a heavily symphonic set filled with varied riffs and strong structures. The 30 odd people packed into the oddly shaped pub seemed impressed by the Scots and their traditional music, inspired by the folklore of Scotland. A fitting precursor to the self proclaimed appreciators of ‘Northern European heritage’, Winterfylleth.

Of course, you don’t have to be racist to appreciate a band like this. It is impossible to deny that as a full blooded Iranian I wasn’t a little uncomfortable at the prospect of being tagged by nationalists hidden within the crowd like British National Party assassins (for those that don’t know they’re a bit like an extra deformed, inbred version of the KKK, just google Nick Griffin’s face for an accurate visual representation of their views). But this was not the case; I can report that the majority of Winterfylleth fans are healthy, sane human beings with good taste in black metal.

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The band performed a tight, well rounded set that did justice to the epic and sometimes haunting melodies Winterfylleth can produce. The ocean of guitar distortion and screamed vocals fared surprisingly well with the unsophisticated PA system and acoustically limited venue.

Not quite NSBM, not quite politically correct, this band still make exceptionally good black metal. This leaves us no choice but to ask, when do morals become a factor in our choice of music and when does music become a moral standard in itself. Winterfylleth aren’t exactly Wagner, but they still pose a view that can make the most casual of black metal fans squirm. Where do you stand?

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