Friday, July 11, 2014

Winterun - Winterun

Independent Release

When Melbourne (Victoria, Australia) based outfit Winterun launched themselves onto the scene with their debut full-length effort ‘The Full Effect’ way back in 2004, they did so in impressive style. The band manages to effortlessly blur the lines between their stoner influences and their heavier rock tendencies, all the while managing to carve a unique sound that was one of their own making.
No sooner had their debut been released, the four piece outfit released follow up efforts in ‘Welcome To...’ (2005) and ‘Into The Underground’ (2007), both of which attracted plenty of critical acclaim from fans and press alike.
A change within the ranks saw the band take their time before entering the studio again. But the resulting E.P. ‘Shadow’ (2011) proved to be worth the wait, with the combined new songs and re-recorded favourites showcasing a further step forward in the band’s sound. It also built up anticipation for the band’s soon to follow new studio album.
Well, that was three years ago. For all intents and purposes, it would appear as though Winterun had withdrawn into a self-imposed hiatus. But from out of shadows, Winterun (Who comprise of vocalist/rhythm guitarist Nick Dunstan, lead guitarist Guy Martin, bassist Matt Taylor and drummer Joel Schneidruk) has finally re-emerged with their long awaited fourth full-length effort ‘Winterun’.
The band opens the album in explosive fashion with the riff heavy ‘To The Sky’. Sounding heavier than ever, the band are keen to announce their return, and no song on the album could have made the statement any louder than this track. Short and to the point, ‘To The Sky’ may not boast the catchiest choruses, but I’m guessing that’s not the point. I’m assuming it’s designed to get the audience moving and the blood pumping, and it more than succeeds in getting that job done.
‘Tomahawk’ (Which originally appeared on ‘Shadow’) is another aggressive and harder edged tune that sees the band taper the full-on assault of guitar riffs to explore some areas of dynamics, while ‘Shadow’ (Another tune from ‘Shadow’) steers more towards Kyuss influenced stoner rock with an array of echoed guitar riffs and infectious melodies on the vocal front.
‘Ships Of Gaillimh’ is a driving number that has some noteworthy riff structures and great breakdowns (Which allows Schneidruk to show what he’s capable of), but falls a little short on the melody side of things. On the other hand, the rocking ‘All Fury’, the slower paced ‘Holiest Of Smoke’ and the mellow ‘Stitches’ are great songs that have all the promise of the former track, but with killer choruses that really help make the song stand out. While there’s an undeniable Pearl Jam influence found in the band’s song writing at times (One only needs to listen to ‘Dawn’), and it’s certainly evident in the three tracks mentioned. But as the saying says, ‘A good song is a good song’. And these three alone stand out as some of the most thought out and strongest material the band has penned to date.
‘Bad Laark’ is another favourite with its heavy powerful groove and equally simple approach to vocal lines, while ‘8X10’ (Again, resurrected from ‘Shadow’) is another high point on the album with the band slipping in a bit of the blues into the stoner rock sound with great results.
Finishing up the album is the semi-acoustic instrumental piece ‘Burn This Day’, which initially starts off gently before building towards a heavy climax close.
Despite sounding a little rough around the edges, and featuring a couple of numbers that could have benefitted from a little more work, ‘Winterun’ is hands down the band’s strongest and most consistent sounding release to date.

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© Justin Donnelly


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