"The Ghost of Heritage"

(Profound Lore)

01. Mam Tor (The Shivering Mountain)
02. The March To Maldon
03. Brithnoth: The Battle of Maldon (991 AD)
04. Forging The Iron of England
05. The Ghost of Heritage
06. Defending The Realm
07. Guardian of the Herd
08. Casting The Runes
09. An Englishman's Verse

RATING: 8/10

"This album is dedicated to all those who throughout the ages have been actively involved in the preservation of our proud ancestral heritage, rich national culture, folklore, and tradition. We will honour you forever!" The quote is taken from the booklet of "The Ghost of Heritage" by England's WINTERFYLLETH (or "winter full moon" in Olde English and representing the month of October and the Anglo-Saxon festival of the arrival of winter) and sums up exactly the lyrical themes of this young black metal act's full-length debut. That is, a factual exploration of watershed events and pivotal points in the history of England.

Featuring members of ATAVIST and WODENSTHRONE, The act's self-described "English Heritage Metal" is a relatively unique brand of folk-laced, expansive, and semi-progressive (i.e., not cluttered) black metal that takes multiple listens to fully appreciate. Trust me, once you've spent an ample amount of time with "The Ghost of Heritage" it will sink its claws into you permanently. There is a certain density to the album that requires some patience to fully absorb. Yet it is not because of a needless layering or random instrumentation; just a classy and intelligent style of composition that comes off as weighty as the topics covered.

What really makes "The Ghost of Heritage" go is the pacing and track placement, which are done in a way to assure momentum is retained, even when the lights turn low on a track like the charming, primarily acoustic instrumental (save for some choral effects) "The March of Maldon". Aside from those lighter moments, the album contains plenty of furious black metal tempos and caustic vocals, yet even in these cases the majesty of it all comes across loud and clear. The use of the aforementioned mid-range choral effects and incorporation of folky acoustic guitars are especially well done in the context of these songs as well. It never sounds forced and always bolsters the album's sonic might and epic feel (check out the manner in which the acoustic-driven "Guardian of the Herd" builds). The use of clean, yet brawny, vocals on songs like album highlight "Brithnoth: The Battle of Maldon (991 AD)" turns a strong song into a triumphant and memorable one. It's all about peaks and valleys.

I'm not sure how Profound Lore does it, but they always end up releasing these unique and powerful albums that require more brain power than the average metal album. Any mental exertion required is always worth it and "The Ghost of Heritage" is no exception. It just goes to show that there is no dearth of dearth of ideas in black metal for those willing to put forth a Herculean effort.


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