I was sifting through Metalbandcamp for new music when I came upon an artist called Desolate Winds. Their artwork and name told me this was a black metal band, though they were conveniently tagged as such in the event I wasn’t metal enough to figure it out on my own. My curiosity had been piqued, as it usually is upon discovering a new black metal band that hasn’t yet described itself as ‘symphonic’. The track list was impressive to me, in that it consisted of two songs, the first being over 16 minutes in length and the second at a modest 6. I appreciate when a band in a genre centered around creating a dark atmosphere take all the time they need to do so and aren’t constricted by the paradigm of the 3 minute song. Given, most black metal songs, even the more mallcore leaning ones (Dimmu Borgir, etc.) don’t quite qualify as pop hits. I feel like I’d complain a lot less if the people living below me shook my floor with Death Cult Armageddon’s beat than whatever bullshit’s making the rounds on the sponsored section of YouTube.
Upon listening to the first track, all my expectations were met, and some surpassed. The first contributor to this is, I think, is the vocals of Desolate Winds. The singing exhibited here is entirely incomprehensible. The group is from the UK, and are presumably singing in English, but I don’t know if I could make a word out if I wanted to. I don’t especially want to. I like the idea that some force or idea is being conveyed that might drive the human spirit into such catatonia that words became meaningless. It seems pretty metal. Difficult or impossible-to-understand is the target of the most common complaint regarding the metal genre in general, particularly from people who are so comically ignorant of the genre that they call it ‘screamo’. I’ve long since begun to recognize the vocals as another means of instrumentation, and for the purpose of creating a desolate ambiance (as suggested by the band name), Desolate Winds’ vocals definitely get the job done. They sound distant and desperate, creating feelings of terror and helplessness. As far as black metal is concerned, Desolate Winds is not one of the most aggressive sounding bands, but I think they achieve the feeling of pure hopelessness better than any other black metal band I’ve heard lately. Rather than an outright aural attack, the resulting sound envelops the listener. With the vocals crying out desperately, the tremolo picking of the guitars mimicking the howling winds of a hopelessly impassible and frozen landscape, the bass laying the deep foundation that allows for an even creepier sound, and the drums pounding out a consistent, almost reluctant beat which seems to force the song to continue, nothing short of an absolute tomb-like feeling of dread is established.
The point is, Metalbandcamp is an excellent place, and you should visit there and download Desolate Winds’ ‘In Times of Cold’ for free there. Or pay $6 and shipping from Fallen Empire Records for a hard copy if you’re Trve Kvlt.