If you need a band to fully endorse the phrase “home is where the heart is” then ever-growing black metallers Winterfylleth continue to prove they’re worthy of just this. After their previous two albums caused a stir both positively and negatively, this years’ ‘The Threnody of Triumph’ is as triumphant as it claims and with the Northerners finally being understood, it’s their time to fly the flag for black metal. Lily Randall caught up with the band at Bloodstock festival, prior to a flawless set.
One of the great things about Winterfylleth is that they don’t fall into any of the typical black metal stereotypes. Unlike the fellow bands such as Watain and Behemoth playing for Bloodstock today, Chris Naughton (vocals/guitar) and Simon Lucas (drums) aren’t awaiting pyrotechnics or for their corpsepaint to be applied. Instead Simon is more than happy to talk for hours about horror films and Chris is calmly discussing bands with a pint in hand. After a stellar set in 2010 on the same Sophie stage, the UK black metallers were asked back this year, albeit slightly lower on the bill. However, the band doesn’t see this as a bad thing, as Chris explains, “I think we got a good slot. I mean, there’s a slightly different vibe this year I think.” As Simon points out, the band clashed with Cannibal Corpse last year, yet they had a great crowd and this year, it’s no different.
2010 was the same year ‘The Mercian Sphere’ was released and it threw the band into the media’s attention. Despite the majority being positive, the surge in popularity caused many to delve into their past to find criticisms. The band’s folklore-inspired music screams out with pride and history of their English turf and like most black metal, this caused some controversy. In years previous, former band members may have taken this nationalism slightly too far, but Chris and the band have always explained that they are not extremists at all. “The whole kind of [thing with] heritage-themed black metal bands or bands that sing about national culture, is that you’re always going to get people that are going to pick the race aspect”, Simon discusses. “They look for that stuff and 95% of that stuff has nothing to do with race or immigration or any of that. We recognised people may target us from the word go, we’ve never been a band that’s candid to people; we’ve always just said it how it is, that’s all you can do.”
Despite recognising that people will always nit-pick, Chris wasn’t expecting it to blow up quite as much as it did. “People can be wonderful, creative, great individuals but people in groups, people online, it’s a different thing. I think a lot of it was driven by people bored at work. I think we always knew this stuff would happen and we’ve always been keen to talk about it and for people to ask questions. I mean, I don’t think you should go and try to police the internet but people like to get the wrong impression and I think it’s got to a point now where people know enough about what we do and it’s up to people to sort of self-police it if you like.”
Despite all this, the band have discussed it extensively and finally people are accepting for what they really are, which is a dedicated and talented group of men. It’s been proven, with ‘The Mercian Sphere’ reaching many ‘album of the year’ lists. Many claim the third album is often the most difficult, so how did Winterfylleth find it? “I’m not going to lie, I think there was a bit of pressure but I think it’s kind of self-imposed. I think when you come off the back of a record that’s really well-perceived which we’re proud of and grateful for, it can be a bit daunting. You feel you’ve got to write a better record. Once we got into it and started the writing process again together, because we had line-up changes and we had Mark and Nick who to be honest have helped developed the sound and had a lot to contribute. We shared the writing duties a little bit more, I still do a lot of it but it’s good to have those guys’ input.”
After hearing Chris explain about the change in members, it’s definitely apparent that Winterfylleth are stronger than ever both live and on record. As explained in SoundShock’s 9/10 rated review, the new album is “unyieldingly aggressive and adds another dimension to the band’s already full-bodied sound”. The folk has been stripped out and the black metal atmosphere has been turned to the max as Chris describes the studio goings-on. “There’s a lot more layering and melody. We went to town a lot more on the guitar layers and the vocal layers and the dynamics of the songs. The songs have always been dynamic I feel, they’ve always been moving forward and progressing and stuff but this time we tried to fill some of the space we had on the last album with more intricate guitar work and multiple layers of lead guitar.”
Since its release ‘The Threnody of Triumph’ has been highly praised for creating a bench mark for future black metal bands and a hopeful increase in British black metal at that. 2012 seems to have been the year for Winterfylleth and Damnation Festival in a few weeks’ time will once again see them own the stage along with fellow Brits Wodensthrone flying the flag. Olympic golds were great this year but two astonishing albums from the British black metal scene is a much bigger nice surprise.
Feature by Lily Randall.