A massive snowstorm is hit us last night and the university has closed down so, much like before, this grim, frostbitten, and snowy day deserves another black metal review.
I'm cheating a little bit here, because Warseid (pronounced Way-sayd) have a big folky flare to them, but I think I can pass off by calling them a symphonic black metal band. These Madison, Wisconsin natives include everything from acoustic nylon-stringed guitar passages, to synths emulating flutes, strings, and horns, to great clean singing, all rolled together with the dark speed and aggression of the traditional black metal we've come to know and love.
The guitar playing is absolutely phenomenal on Where Fate Lies Unbound. My favorite parts are easily all the classical guitar passages, which follow some engaging and unusual chord progressions mixed in with some excellently phrased lead playing, also on classical guitar. That being said, guitarists Steve Hoff and Andre Cailliet's electric chops are no laughing matter either. The riffs can rage from big sweeping black metal-esque chords to more melodic and harmonized riffs executed with the precision of an Elven archer. Hoff's leads and solos are absolutely facemelting, but they're also tasteful enough not to leave you bored by the time you reach the end of the EP. While the chordal riffs could potentially have been played by every Darkthrone and Emperor worship band from here to Norway, the more technical riffs and especially the acoustic playing definitely give the band a sound unlike any other that I've heard.
I have to admit, Warseid's EP is exactly the direction I would love to see Guelph folk metallers Unbowed take with their future releases. The percussion done by Kellan Hilscher is varied and constantly engaging. He gets some cool passages like the very first thirty seconds of the EP where he brings some foreign sounding tom work, as well as showing off some big fills and rhythmic variation like on the constantly shifting and changing "Frost Upon the Embers" and "The Vengeance Pact". Even Hilscher's traditional black metal drumming is unfuckithable. The man can let rip some crazy double bass and blizzardous blasts whenever he wants, but much like Hoff, keeps his technical playing tasteful.
I've already said that Warseid use clean vocals a little bit on the EP, and they're used with some great vocal harmonies as well, but there are still no viking gang chants to be found on this EP. Warseid play a bit more of a dark and solemn type of folk/ black metal, unlike the gang vocal heavy bands like Ensiferum, Turisas, and Wintersun, who definitely have a much more lighthearted tone to their music. Still, something akin to the Misty Mountain song from The Hobbit would sound absolutely awesome mixed into Warseid's sound.
If there's anything I have to criticize Where Fate Lies Unbowed with, it'd be the length. Four songs over half an hour is a bit excessive I think, and while some bands have managed to pull off long folk metal albums with little songs (I'm looking at you, Wintersun), I find that when your shorted track is about five and a half minutes, and your longest is over eleven, things start to drag a bit.
Bomb-Ass Tracks: Shackles Through Sand, Farewell
On a Playlist With: Unbowed, Arkona, Agalloch
Warseid are a force to be reckoned with. Everybody sounds great and plays great on Where Fate Lies Unbound, creating a really enveloping atmosphere that brings you back to a time of swords, heroes, and sorcery. Any fans of folk metal should definitely keep an eye on these fellows. Odin knows I am.
Warseid has their own personal website, and all of their releases as well as merchandise can be found on their Bandcamp page.
That's all for now, folks!