Winterfylleth - The Mercian Sphere (Candlelight/Earsplit)

England's Glory? Not quite, but they're getting there...

Luckily for Mancunian miserablists Winterfylleth, you’re reading Metal as Fuck, as opposed to Dodgy Racial Theories as Fuck or Confused History as Fuck. So, we’d be best to just concentrate on their music rather than their bone-headed devotion to England’s Pagan past, all the while holding up the Christian symbol of the St George’s Cross as their most revered icon. Right?

Right. The Mercian Sphere, when it’s not awkwardly trying to be all things to all men, is really rather good. For fifteen minutes – the time it takes for the band to glide through the central triumvirate of The Fields of Reckoning, Children of the Stones and The Ruin- they sound like bona fide world beaters. And that’s because here they cast off the Neolithic, gumby posturing and create something that, whilst still unequivocally black metal, is of sufficient class to pull in listeners from beyond that genre’s ghetto faithful.

Sure, they’ve got the chops – there’s enough nodding to the old school on show here to build a studded and corpse-painted dog for your parcel shelf, should you require one - to pull off the Enslaved/Bathory worship that the kids seem to require. But when they mix it up – as they do to stunning and surprising effect on the afore-mentioned ...Fields, then we’re talking something potentially very special here.

In fact, the whole BM thing may end up being something of a dead end for Winterfylleth. When they go fully acoustic they bring to mind latter day Anathema in both their vision and execution, whilst their occasional flirtations with something other than rigid double-kick backdrops always pay dividends.

That’s not to say their more prosaic offerings aren’t worthy – this really is as good as anything passing itself off as black metal in 2010 - it’s just that the listener’s hopes for the band are allowed to soar so much during the ‘interlude’ pieces that when the band get back to the sturm und drang you can’t help but wish the banging and crashing over in order to get to the juicy bits again... which kinda defeats the object for a band like this, one presumes.

That said, album closer Defending the Realm is as scintillating a slab of snub-nosed brutality as you could wish for, and that’s possibly the most straight up song on offer here, so what do I know? Whatever, the future looks bright for Winterfylleth, as long as they stick to music...

Winterfylleth's The Mercian Sphere is out now on Candlelight/Earsplit.