The world is full of interesting music being spawned from a number of differing frontiers. Metal, of course, is no exception to this and neither is the northwestern United States…
From it’s high peaks to it’s hidden valleys, from the tallest green of Redwood Trees to the running waters below, there’s no shortage of delightful landscapes and inspiration to be found there. Now, what if a band took those landscapes and did their best to turn them into sprawling soundscapes? Have we got a treat for you…
That is precisely the aim behind the band Vintersea, hailing from Portland, Oregon and fully inspired by the more natural stretches of land surrounding. They take their appreciation of this setting and hammer it out into a combination of metallic sounds much like a blacksmith making the sword of his dreams. They combine elements of Progressive Metal, Black Metal, Death Metal, Post-Metal, and much more to make a sound crossing danger and serenity.
All of this is put on display through the band’s sophomore album “The Gravity of Fall”. This is the second step of their ambitious journey following the release of 2014’s “Asterion : Constellations”. Currently, both of these records are available for streaming and purchase over on Bandcamp, iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, and most major online music platforms! You can also listen through the music video and Bandcamp links provided below! Rumor has it Vintersea also have a new music video cooking right now so stay tuned…
The album opens with the crackle of vinyl and the weavings of piano and string, turning like the rings of a Redwood tree. “Arise” looks up to the mountain of this record (clocking in at over an hour of content!) and presents a mystery to be answered. It’s an intriguing introduction to what is “The Gravity of Fall”.
“The Host” is where the metal hits, standing as the first full track on the record. It begins with a bit of a harsh edge that melts in and out as things progress. Paired with “Arise”, it serves as a great way to guide the listeners ear into this LP.
However, the next track may very well be one of the album’s best representatives. “Skies Set Ablaze” was a single taken from the album and a large part of the reason we’re here today! This track does a great job of showing the many sides that Vintersea has to offer. It also comes strapped with a visually stunning music video that compliments the band’s sound with near perfection.
As mentioned before, this is not a short listening experience. It’s clearly meant to be listened to end-to-end as an experience. The record is laced with great moments brought forth by a variety of approaches and twists throughout. For example, the winding drumwork and complex subtleties towards the beginning of “The Holy Procession”, the incredible journey of “Crevasse” standing out as a literal mountain among the tracklist settling into some great sound design on “Embers”, and the epic ending of the closer track “Mirror Lake”. There are plenty of bright moments to bring illumination to the minds and ears of listeners as they follow the path of Vintersea.
The band puts together some truly majestic and massive soundscapes throughout the duration of “The Gravity of Fall”. They range from uplifting to downright haunting. I would say this delivery is one of the categories in which this band brings the most depth to the table. This is appropriate as it seems to be one of the unspoken, core parts of their mission in translating the natural to the aural medium.
From my very first listen to Vintersea, a certain word has always stuck out to describe them in my head. That word is “duality”. Most of their content strikes me in two sides through different means. Whether it be the clean and the harsh or the majestic and the stripped down. Hell, even the visuals of the “Skies Set Ablaze” music video captured this! Unfortunately, it also struck me this way in terms of quality at times. Many sections of this album absolutely swept me off my feet and left me awestruck while others underwhelmed me. For example, “Crevasse” is a jaw dropping level of awesome while segments of “Entities” were too loose and underwhelming for me (liked the opening riff and ending solo though!).
Another word that could easily describe this band is “EPIC”! Generally, no matter which direction they approach music from – even at it’s most stripped down – some element of it always sounds HUGE! This makes sense given the overall scope of their concept.
There are certain moments on this record where the production could use a facelift but sometimes the rough edges really compliment what’s going on. It’s tough to say because metal music is usually so uniform across an album when it comes to this front. However, at times, it does seem like this process may have suffered a bit when stacked against the impressively clear sounds being accomplished in the modern day. Luckily, this doesn’t do too much to hamper the journey of this record.
For example, the more I listened to the vocal duality of Avienne, the more intoxicating the vocals became. On the first couple listens, I wasn’t completely sold on the clean vocals but was impressed with the harsh end of things. However, after listening to the full album a few times, I found several clean vocal passages to be brilliant. Honestly, I think they could’ve been mixed in better which caused a bit of a sour effect at times but there’s no sort of pitch correction or over production happening which I certainly respect. And damn… When she hits, she really hits!
This band has some sharpening to do but they already stand as a very creative and talented unit at times verging on pure greatness. Ears should be looking forward to the evolution of Vintersea as there is much potential here. However, as it stands, they’ve definitely made a mark here and branch out from the pack on a number of fronts. While listening to this album, the music struck me in a wide arc feeling anywhere from a 6 to a 9 out of 10. So let’s grab an average a settle on a 7.5 edging in the direction of an 8.
If you wish to support this band, there are a number of mediums through which to make that happen! As mentioned before, the record is available on Bandcamp, iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, and other locations as well. They also have a social network presence on Facebook and Instagram. Also as mentioned before, they have a new music video incoming so stay tuned and show love! Any and all support for Vintersea is well deserved as they continue on their musical journey through Northwestern trails.