Winterwolf – Cycle of the Werewolf

Reviewed: December 2009
Released: 2009, Xtreem Music
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Luxi Lahtinen

Corpse (Deathchain, Demilich, Forgotten Horror, etc.), K.E.Pestilence (De Lirium\’s Order), E.R.Insane (Shade Empire, De Lirium\’s Order), Abomanitor aka Antti Boman (Demilich) and Rotten aka Tommi Virranta) (Deathchain, Survivors Zero, etc.) are Winterwolf (the former name for Deathchain) – and Winterwolf have devotedly decided to stick with the old guns, so to speak.

CYCLE OF THE WEREWOLF is the debut full-length album of these 5 Finnish werewolves – and it pays indescribable homage to the past Swedish underground death metal circa 1988-91 as far as the album´s content is concerned. The songs on this album come as close to that legendary Swedish late eighties/early nineties sound that it would be very easy to mistake Winterwolf´s album as a product from those golden times of the Swedish heavy, crisp and downtuned death metal. Winterwolf have basically managed to resurrect that magical, Thomas Skogberg-Sunlight sound combination really well yet so deceptively subtly on their debut album – and I gotta believe it has naturally a lot of to do with everything all that music that you can actually find from these fellows´ own, personal music collections. They all seem to dig their Nihilists, Entombeds, Dismembers, Carnages, Centinexs, etc., like all these classic Swedish death metal forces would mean the only world to them through a couple of decades – and whatnot if the result can be anything as this impressive and jaw-breaking.

Vocals on this very ear-nailing album have been split by Rotten who does most of the death grunts here – and Antti of Demilich, who still sounds ridiculously inhuman with his hyper-guttural, croaking vocal lines that are not from this world. Both guys do their share amazingly well vocal-wise – and now when you actually come to think of it, they have truly understood what their roles demand from them in order to get exactly the right vibe and feeling vocally pushed into the songs of this album. Both guys have succeeded 100% with this particular goal in question – absolutely!

If CYCLE OF THE WEREWOLF had been released at the same time as, let´s say, Carnage´s DARK RECOLLECTIONS, or Entombed´s LEFT HAND PATH or Dismember´s LIKE AN EVER FLOWING STREAM, then this album would have definitely been considered one of the most classic Scandinavian death metal albums among others, too – there´s just not the slightest doubt of it. The familiar, crisp buzz saw guitar sound is strongly yet so beautifully present on CYCLE; done only the way so many Swedish death metal acts did it some 20 years ago.

And as if this isn´t enough, also the album cover itself – a B&W drawing reflecting blood-craving werewolfs with a red Winterwolf logo on the top of it, stays also adorably truthful to the past Scandinavian underground death metal times (reminding me a bit of Megaslaughter´s CALLS FROM THE BEYOND album cover on the French Thrash Records, released in 1991).

CYCLE OF THE WEREWOLF has been released as 12\” LP vinyl format on a limited run of 500 copies only, so act fast if you are still going to get your own copy of this gem. However, one should keep in mind that this will also be released later this year (or early 2010) as CD format, so all of you lazy yet so lucky bastards can consider this as your last straw then to get it for your own collections. And please be sure to really get this ingeniously done record for yourselves because this truly is worth your every cent/penny/chewed gum.


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Track Listing:
01. Intro to Death
02. Phantoms of Madness
03. Cemetary by Night
04. Lycanthropic Aeons
05. nataS fo tsaeB
06. All Shall Be Eaten
07. Shadows, Howling and Doom
08. Wolf Skin Mask
09. Return to the Shadow of Death
10. Cenotaph*

* Bolt Thrower cover

Rotten – Eerie howlings
Corpse – Six stringed deathwish and feces
Abomanitor – Blasphemous Left-Hand Path & sewage shrieks
K.E.Pestilence – Old-school bass bestiality
E.R.Insane – Wolfskins