Active since 1998, this Dutch entity now finds itself in rather a unique position. Not only does it boast two members of the much missed God Dethroned amongst its ranks but one of whom is Mr Dethroned himself, Henri ‘the Serpent King’ Sattler. However Winter Of Sin managed to get him back on the extreme metal scene – where he belongs – they deserve to be awarded Holland’s highest honour. Also, the artwork is simply brilliant, recalling the glory days of death metal when actual artists regaled sleeves with visions of death and obscurity in all the oil-based paints of the rainbow. Most important of all however, is the fact that musically WOS means business.
‘Astral Death Reign Algorithm’ materialises curiously with brief little notes played on something like one of those musical matchboxes before a thick black miasma of death-thrash absolutely storms out. Henri Sattler’s vocals sound more deathly than they have for a while, which is nice, and combined with flits into melodic supremacy – like some in-your-face Dissection – the opener quickly establishes the huge potential of WOS’s current incarnation. Of course the other new element for this band (and a key feature to this album’s explosive edge) is the contribution of drummer Michiel van der Plicht – he of Prostitute Disfigurement fame. His characteristically intense playing hammers home each riff, guitar flourish and searing excursion into melody like there’s no tomorrow. As with the mighty ‘D’ mentioned earlier and God Dethroned, when certain majestic passages break out, it’s just so damn right. While ‘Eternal Winter’ takes the viciousness down a notch, it is followed by the excellent title track; one which expertly melds the sublime with the brutal.
Hot on the heels of this master-class comes ‘Black Ashes’, another great track whose acid riffs and lead work cut right through the listener. A particularly neck-breaking combination is that of the mid-pace midpoint and its subsequent journeys into violent, tortured speed. In contrast comes neat instrumental guitar track ‘Virus’ which then leads to my least favourite song of the bunch. Despite initial signals of a more belligerent ‘Storm of the Light’s Bane’ number, ‘Infection of Infinity’ actually trudges into quite formulaic realms compared to what we’ve heard so far. Of the final tracks, ‘Inheritors of Pain’ perhaps stands out. Whilst foregoing much of the speed and brutality of the earlier part of the record, this track still kicks arse with layers of melody and satisfyingly heavy chord changes; the deliberate nature of the latter emblematic of what makes black/death metal a superior art form. ‘Unleash Mayhem’ does what it says on the tin before ‘Biomechanoid’ concludes proceedings on a typically imperious high note.
All in all it’s probably fair to assume that WOS founders/guitarists Schmertz and Schrat are more than happy with this latest effort. While I’m in the dark regarding their previous ones (which at a glance appear geared more directly to black metal) I can well imagine that this is the most intense thing they have thus far come out with. Aside from the odd lull in its latter half, ‘Violence Reigns Supreme’ is a very good, and occasionally near perfect, metal release. If the line-up remains consistent to what it is today then who knows what awaits…