WINTER ETERNAL is the sole work of one Soulreaper, formed as a means to express his darkest side – indeed, a place where winter reigns eternal. It all started in 2002 in Athens, Greece where, under the name Unveiled Nightsky, the seeds for the Winter that was yet to come where planted. Nine years later, in 2011, WINTER ETERNAL were officially formed, and a year later, the first demo was released. The band’s first full-length, simply self-titled, originally saw release in 2013 as a limited cassette and, three years later, finally as a CD version.
Eternal winter was raging throughout Soulreaper’s long journey. The multitude of feelings captured in his lyrics and especially his music made WINTER ETERNAL a unique entity within the modern underground: influences ranged from the ’90s Swedish black metal scene (Dissection, Gates Of Ishtar, Vinterland etc) to both the early Hellenic and Norwegian scenes (Rotting Christ, Necromantia, Varathron, Ulver, Windir, Satyricon etc). Truly, this was the work of an old soul, and the results were but only building in strength and sweeping grandeur…
In 2018, a new chapter for WINTER ETERNAL began, marked by Soulreaper’s relocating to Scotland and the release of the second full-length, Realms of the Bleeding Shadows, a year later. Whereas previous recordings suggested an obviousness of influence nobly executed, here did WINTER ETERNAL begin to add to that rich heritage rather than merely replicate it. Everything across Realm of the Bleeding Shadows – songwriting, performance,, production, even artwork – was taken up more than a few notches, rendering the record both remarkably fresh and timeless.
Now, stronger than ever, WINTER ETERNAL rampage through the Land of Darkness on their third album, and first for HELLS HEADBANGERS. Thrillingly chilling yet breathtakingly emotional, Land of Darkness absolutely bristles with an ancient-days mysticism and melodicism that bring black metal’s majestic past into the present. So authentic is WINTER ETERNAL’s understanding of classic songcraft as well as sympathetic production, agonized and effervescent in equal measure, you’d be forgiven for thinking Land of Darkness was some lost relic released in 1997. However, again like its full-length predecessor but more so here, WINTER ETERNAL poignantly taps into that wellspring of creation the aforementioned legends did and feeds his own lifeforce into it, flexing fluid chops along the way – always in service of The Song, of course – and returns with a nine-song/40-minute document of dreams both dark and beautiful. Nodding to his forebears, Soulreaper reverentially concludes the album with a cover of Gates of Ishtar’s “Dawn of Flames.”
WINTER ETERNAL have at last arrived, and beckon you to venture across their Land of Darkness!
Hells Headbangers Records (USA), 2021.