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A Journal Of The Dark Arts

Winter Nights – Sky Burial album review

NYC death metalheads Winter Nights hit their stride on Sky Burial, their bleakest and most brutal offering to date. 

New York City death metal quartet Winter Nights have been a band since 2007. Historically speaking, they average an album about every 3 years. It was 6 years between 2014’s An Endless Apocalypse and last year’s excellent self-titled LP. The past few years seem to have opened the floodgates for Winter Nights who are returning with a brand new EP a scant 13 months after Winter Nights. This is excellent news for metalheads and the band alike. 

Winter Nights describe themselves as a Melodic Death Metal band, which is accurate. You could probably tack on ‘symphonic’ and ‘technical’ to that description, as well, if it wouldn’t make it so unwieldy. Winter Nights have a more gothic, funereal feel that aligns with the former while their music is more intricate than your average death metal. Rather than simply beating you about the head for 45 minutes, Sky Burial twists, turns, taunts, caresses, cajoles and, finally, eviscerates you. It’s exquisite and it’s a testament to what Winter Nights are capable of. 

Sky burial is a funerary practice where a corpse is left to the elements to be reclaimed by nature, scoured by abrading winds and devoured by carrion birds, largely practiced in regions like Nepal, Tibet, and Mongolia. Sky Burial is a depiction of that process in four parts but it’s also a metaphysical metaphor, using the image and brutal, scathing death metal to depict complex ideas of ego death and transfiguration. 

Sky Burial is a depiction of that process in four parts but it’s also a metaphysical metaphor, using the image and brutal, scathing death metal to depict complex ideas of ego death and transfiguration. 

Things kick off with “Time To Say Goodbye,” where you say goodbye to the person you were and the life you’ve known, as moody synthscapes are subsumed by searing, soaring lead guitars and lumpen, pummeling blastbeats. “Neither Faith Nor Fear” is a plaintive, sorrowful meditation in half-time until the slow-burn finally reaches the powder keg, exploding into fiery fury even while gothic synth strings continue the somber tone.

Sky Burial by Winter Nights

“Neither Faith Nor Fear” speaks to the twin polarities of how most people live their lives, either basing their life on some imaginary sky daddy or else reacting in blind, animal panic at his absence. Instead, Winter Nights invite you to explore another way, to take control of yr inner world and lead instead of follow, which is further emphasized with “I Pray To I.” Finally, things erupt with the title track, “Sky Burial,” the longest offering on display at a still pretty streamlined 7 minutes. Guitars blaze like white lightning while James Yarusinsky’s drums pummel and grind like tectonic plates. It’s stunning, quite frankly, a fitting capstone for an incredible death metal EP that, simply put, you need to hear! 

Sky Burial by Winter Nights

Loss, grief, and melancholy have been a part of Winter Nights’ DNA since their beginning but they seem to really come into focus on Sky Burial. While also excellent, their last LP glistened like a Journey record, in comparison, while this EP has more in common with a Venom or Carpathian Forest album, production-wise. The moodier, more stripped-down approach is a good look for them. The quick turnaround time, paired with more pared-down production, suggest Winter Nights have something to say. Take our advice and listen up!

Sky Burial by Winter Nights

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This entry was posted on August 18, 2021 by in album reviews and tagged , , , , , , .

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