Released: 2005, Lion Music
Winterlong are back with their third kick at the can with this self titled effort. After releasing VALLEY OF THE LOST, the band fell apart and after some aborted starts Thorbjorn Englund resurfaced with the band name and a new unit backing him. This is release #2 for that lineup and 3rd in all for Winterlong. The trademark shred of Englund is well entrenched on this release but the variety of songs is also noteworthy. Everything from straight-ahead shredders to acoustic instrumentals are included to create a diverse mix of shred influenced neoclassical powermetal.
The CD kicks off with the absolute burner “The Priest”. This is a very interesting song to start with because it is one of the weaker tracks on the CD. Even after repeated listens this song just doesn’t give me a clear picture of what a ride I am in for on the rest of the CD. With such a lacklustre start I was pleasantly surprised with “Ten Digits of the Future”. It is on this track that the true majesty and power of Winterlong and its main man Thorbjorn Englund starts to shine through. Vocalist Mikael Holm has been an excellent addition to the band and compliments the song writing of Englund perfectly. One of the more interesting songs on the CD is the ballad “Demise”. Melancholy yet powerful, “Demise” gives Mike Holm the opportunity to stretch his vocal talents a bit while adding some breathing room and dare I say, emotion, to the disc. The centerpiece, and highpoint, to this release is the track “Ragnarok”. For those of you that don’t know, Ragnarok means “Doom of the Gods” and deals with the end of the cosmos in Norse Mythology. After a great war, which includes the gods and all others, the earth will fall into the sea and be destroyed only to be resurrected as an idyllic world where only some of the gods survive and misery no longer exists. Unfortunately, Winterlong doesn’t delve to deeply into the legend of Ragnarok and instead focuses on the war like aspects of the myth. “Ragnarok” is definitely the high point of WINTERLONG and is one of the best songs from all 3 of the bands’s CDs.
WINTERLONG took some time to grow on me. The bands debut disc “Valley of the Lost” was one of my favourite releases from 2001 and I wasn’t impressed when the band split up. The goods news, if there is ever any good news from a split, is that we now have 2 great bands that have risen from the ashes of the original Winterlong. Some of Winterlong’s former members have resurfaced with Viperine. Viperine released their debut disc called THE PREDATOR AWAKENS in 2004. With WINTERLONG, Thorbjorn Englund and company have crafted a body of songs that certainly stand up to repeated listens. In fact, the more I listen, the better this CD gets.