Album: Thrall of Winter’s Majesty
Label: Amor Fati Productions
Genre: Atmospheric / Symphonic Black Metal
Country: United States / Sweden
Release Date: April 21, 2021
For Fans Of: Chaos Moon, Dimmu Borgir (early), Summoning (early)
Despite the things that one may accomplish, there is often a constant in the back of your mind, a sense of being incomplete as a result of things left unfinished. This is something that plagues people a day to day basis and appears to have been a burden on the black metal virtuoso Alex Poole, a.k.a. Esoterica. With extremely prolific output over the years in such heralded acts as; Krieg, Skáphe, and many, many other projects, Poole is best known as the sole member and mastermind behind the incredible Chaos Moon. In 2019, Poole, once again, made a splash in the black metal scene dusting off Ringarë, the band project that would eventually evolve into Chaos Moon, with vocalist, Likpredikaren of Musmahhu notoriety. After releasing a debut, of sorts, back in 2019 the band is set to release their sophomore record, Thrall of Winter’s Majesty, in 2021.
Similar to its predecessor, Thrall of Winter’s Majesty, takes songs that were written or started in the mid-00’s and completes and refines them into an album that the band feels worthy of release. With a sound that flows between the early symphonic black metal bands of the 90’s and atmospheric ambience, Ringarë are a band out of time.
Thrall of Winter’s Majesty, coming in at just over the 40-minute mark, is four epic and long tracks that alternate between aggressive, symphonic black metal and ambient electronic pieces. Despite the alternation between sounds, Ringarë is able to convey a central theme of frigid, nature based music. As stated previously, the black metal tracks encapsulate the sound of early second wave classics such as Dimmu Borgir’s Stormblåst and Summoning’s Minas Morgul. Not to say that Ringarë are a clone, but there are definite sonic similarities. Like those albums, these tracks feature heavy, synth-first, black metal that could have easily come out during that same time period and these tracks are where the album truly shines.
The two black metal tacks, Witness to Winter’s Lament and Thrall of Winter’s Majesty, are an absolute masterclass of what symphonic black metal is all about. The music is dynamic and engaging, grabbing the listener’s attention and never letting go. The synths are the definite focal point, and while this is usually something that would send me running for the hills, they are done in a tasteful way that compliments the song beautifully. I am not even usually the biggest fan of this type of black metal, but Jesus Fucking Christ, these songs blew me away.
The black metal tracks, unfortunately, are only half the story here. The remaining two tracks, O’er Winters Shroud and A Paean for Endless Snow, are equally long, ambient, instrumental tracks, that just don’t have the same gravitas as the heavier songs. While these songs are good on their own merits, and are something I could see myself putting on while reading or hiking, the way that the sounds alternate causes for a weird shift in dynamics that just didn’t really work for me from a sequencing standpoint. These types of songs were always present on albums like those I mentioned earlier, however, an instrumental track like this usually served to compliment and break up the monotony of an album and on Thrall of Winter’s Majesty they make up half of the runtime of the album.
With this second album Ringarë prove that they are more than just a Chaos Moon side project or something that should have been left in the past. Thrall of Winter’s Majesty is evident of a band firing on all cylinders. While the sequencing was an issue for me, I don’t think that this will be the case for everyone who comes across this album. The songs are all great, but I think it will work better for me if I break it up into basically the equivalent of two EPs. I’ll have a twenty-minute black metal album to listen to when that’s what I want and a twenty-minute atmospheric synth album to serve as the soundtrack to whatever I’m reading at the moment.
Rating: 7 / 10
- Witness to Winter’s Lament
- O’er Winters Shroud
- Thrall of Winter’s Majesty
- A Paean For Endless Snow
Total Playing Time: 42:15