Wolfheart – Winterborn (Self-Released)

Sunday, 1st December 2013
Rating: 8.5/10

Tuomas Saukkonen is one busy guy, and the metal world is a better place for it.  This prolific multi-instrumentalist, songwriter-composer and all-out metal bad-ass has been kicking out the jams since 1999 with his band Before the Dawn – an acclaimed Finnish melodic death metal band, where he was the constant member as singer, guitarist and songwriter, releasing seven albums between 2003 and 2012.  Meanwhile, Tuomas was additionally releasing solo works under the name Black Sun Aeon, spanning three full-lengths from 2009-2011.  After officially putting to rest all other musical endeavors (for now), Saukkonen returns with a new moniker in Wolfheart, and delivers a superbly focused, expert work of Scandinavian melodic death metal, and one of the strongest albums this year.

Handling all musical duties, Saukkonen has crafted an album that musically could sit between Reinkaos-era Dissection and any Insomnium album – deeply melodic yet barbarically heavy.  Adept use of acoustic guitar and strings punctuate the record, creating a deep bed of atmosphere over which Tuomas can lay his stellar guitar work and top-notch vocals (think Dissection here).  Winterborn expertly straddles the line between metal-muscle and delicate beauty, especially on the second song “Routa pt. 2,” which really shows a good window into what this album is, and the mastery that is contains.  The official music video can be seen here.

Completely rock-solid throughout, with a strong beginning and an even stronger finish in the two last tracks “I” and “Chasm,” Winterborn is a complete success and recommended listening for fans of extreme metal and especially for fans of melodic death metal.  Tuomas Saukkonen should be very proud of this.

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