Friday, September 30, 2011

Appalachian Winter - Appalachian Winter (2011)

Recently, I have come across an incredible self-titled album by the band Appalachian Winter. This is a one man band from Pennsylvania who has clearly put so much effort and detail into this album as you will find it packed with different orchestral instruments and beautiful complex song structure. D. G. Klyne has written and performed the entire album, which I have found to be most impressive. As far as the genre goes, it is definitely a mix between progressive black metal and symphonic metal with a little bit of folk sprinkled on top.

The first track on the album is "Winter" which starts with dark and beautiful piano notes. This quickly opens up with symphonic horns and orchestral string. The music sounds like a score to a Lord Of The Rings scene. Heavy drums with echoing cymbals bash away at you as heavy guitar riffs begin chugging. The epic horns really build up the album as they fly high over the strings. About two and a half minutes in comes the verse with clean but aggressive vocals. The lyrics are delivered in more of a spoken word than a sing melody. Soon after enters machine gun double bass pedaling booming at insane speeds. This will have you pumping your devil horns immediately. The refrain is interesting as his clean vocals are then layered with a deep demonic growl on top of them. There is also some pretty impress growling in the last minute while chugging guitars blast away with uplifting orchestral horns soar over them. This seven and a half masterpiece is sure to have you hooked and hitting replay!

Acoustic guitars fade in with "Wind" as clean singing vocals enter right away. Angelic strings build up in the background as double bass drum patterns start to kick in. This is where your head will start to bob. The style of the verse is interesting as you will half of it sung in a clean, almost pagan like, singing voice. Then enters dark devilish growling to complete the second half of the verse. The mixture of the two really hold that beauty and the beast feel to the track. The refrain contains very catchy lyrics that will have you singing along as soon as you hear them. All the instruments fade out after the refrain as the acoustic guitar takes over again opening up the second verse of clean singing and vicious growls. These growls are really delivered with amazing performance and seem to just get better and better throughout the song.

"Wolfghosts" is where some of the folk metal influences come into play. The song opens with some catchy melodic flutes with soft acoustic guitars in the background. As the rest of the instruments drop, a deafening and haunting growl comes rolling in with distorted guitars and snapping drums behind it. The guitars are chugging away as the verse starts with evil spoken word delivered in a very low tone of voice. Now get ready because half way through the song comes some more insane double bass drumming as the vocals switch from spoken word to the monstrous growling. The instruments definitely give that black metal vibe as wicked melodic guitars are running up and down the scales during the heavily filled double bass pedaling runs through you. There is even some clean chanting vocals in the end leaving an epic feel to the mix.

Soft piano riffs open up "Forever" as depressive spoken word enters in the beginning. A alluring flute fades in and out between words teasing you with its gorgeous melodies. Orchestral strings take over adding a soft symphonic feel to the album. This is the shortest song on the album running for about four minutes long. As it fades to the end, you are met with beautiful guitar notes in "Solitude." This is quickly shattered with another monstrous growl that opens the door for the heavy chugging of vicious guitar riffs. Strings float in the background which consume you deeper into the song as a wall of double bass pedals fall on you with thunderous speed. Later in the song enters more horns as the drumming and distortion fade out. The melody the horns produce give such a passionate sound to the song and are full of meaning. Eventually chanting vocals come flying in with more rapid double bass drumming and crashing cymbals. There are also some dark spoken word towards the last 30 seconds of the song that ends with a huge echoing growl that will knock you off your feet. It final fades with the ravishing flute that started in the beginning.

The sixth and final track on the album is "Night" and runs for about eight and a half minutes long. It starts out slow with layers of strings hitting all different octaves as dark whispering spoken word drifts through them. Heavily distorted guitar enter for a short time as exploding drums follow them. This quickly fades as the strings continue to play. After more whispering words are spoken, the instruments pick up with more guitars chugging away as violent growling vocals take over. The delivery is absolutely remarkable. The drum fills roll perfectly into the next set of growling as the symphonic strings lift the rest of the instruments higher and higher. About five minutes into the song, everything fades out as a soothing synth takes over. This is later backed by light drumming and more orchestral strings. More spoken word is layered on top just before the loud guitar riffs explode back into the scene. This is a real electrifying way to end the album.

"Appalachian Winter" is so diverse and unique. The way the vocals are constantly changing and the atmosphere around them are constantly switching from fast and heavy to slow and symphonic really make this album stand out. Klyne does a great job of keeping the album flowing smoothly from track to track. The structure of the songs are so fascinating well thought out. This truly is a magnificent album and a great experience. Whatever you do, don't miss out on this phenomenal piece of art.


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