It’s been 10 years since Winterfylleth made their debut performance at Bloodstock – one of the first open air festivals to take a chance on the now staple of British black metal when they were in their infancy. The band have made numerous appearances at BOA since – most notable is their 2017 performance on the mainstage – a seminal marker for just how far the band have come. Immortalising this triumph is ‘The Siege of Mercia’ a live recording of Winteryfylleth’s 2017 Bloodstock performance in full.

As far as live performances go, this release is testament to just how phenomenally tight the four piece are; if the crowd interaction were removed it would be easy to believe this is a studio recording. The set list showcases some of Winterfylleth’s best material, spanning everything from ‘A Valley Thick with Oaks’, ‘Defending the Realm’ to the more recent ‘The Swart Raven’. What makes this recording so special is how immersive it feels – when vocalist Chris Naughton encourages the audience to join it, you can almost imagine yourself in the crowd.

More often than not, live albums can feel self-indulgent and pointless – why would you want to listen to a recording of a band that’s easy enough to catch on tour? However, in the case of ‘The Siege of Mercia’ it has captured something momentous – Winterfylleth started their Bloodstock journey as an act that were relatively unknown and still considered to be an underground band. Now, when British black metal is spoken about, they are one of the first bands that people mention – their mainstage performance in 2017 coincided with the band’s 10th anniversary and is an essential listening experience for anyone with an interest in the legacy of black metal within the British Isles.

(8/10 Angela Davey)