This album is one of those conundrums, a work that initially is both unexpected and yet such an obvious one too when just a moment of thought is given to it. But still, again, somehow surprising that they actually went and did it. If you are unaware what we have here is an acoustic album, an album of folk, neo-folk, whatever. Folk rooted music. Nothing, not one note in common with the huge swathes of folk metal, much more aligned with such music as Ivar Bjørnson & Einar Selvik but with a very English soul as you would expect from Winterfylleth. Why? Well maybe the relatively recent joining of Dan Capp whose Wolcensman project is heavily folk influenced nudged it, but I believe this is simply something the band have grown towards on their musical travels. Their contributions to the compilation One And All Together, For Home were so adept, so full of emotion and sympathetic touch that this, really, is the only place it could have gone.
Don’t come in here expecting any jigs, any drinking songs, and fucking pirates. This is quiet, introspective music, a heavy mist of melancholy drifting over its fields. Mostly this breathes on the strings of the acoustic guitar, the feint waft of keyboards whisper distantly, the subtle flutter of percussion, the occasional accompanying violin or cello and the voices.
You first notice on ‘The Shepherd’ what an absolutely beautiful production this album has. Each note resonates as though there is just a few inches of dusty dawn sunlight between you and it, and the vocals, both in tone and in the sumptuous arrangements, are frankly stunning. The thought, understanding and effort that has gone into them is just cause to pause and wonder. Maybe it’s because I have been following Winterfylleth for so long, but hearing the band who began with The Ghost Of Heritage mature into the people capable of having the touch and the feel to produce The Hallowing Of Heirdom is actually very moving indeed.
It’s not the kind of album where you want to pick through each song in review. I could mention ‘The Nymph’ as one personal favourite, a little spoken word, perfect percussion and a swell to the harmony vocals that brings up the sun with its heart but you will find others. This is a gentle reverie of an album, deeply thoughtful and often inwards looking as Winterfylleth have a mind to being but never forgetting to raise its eyes to the horizon and to breathe in the beauty around it. ‘The Resting Tarn’ has the most gorgeous violin and cello, the guitars stepping back to allow it to shine. The title track a golden glow of a farewell.
You can just imagine this as a set gracing the hall at Midgardsblot, bringing a little English countryside to visit Norway. Ambassadors of you will.
I’ve no idea where messers Lucas, Naughton, Wallwork, Capp and Deeks will pass through next on their wanderings amongst their inspiration but this soft, melodic pause opens up the rest of the countryside for them. Freedom to roam. Just follow because it will surely be worth it.