Winter Bestowed - _Within My Labyrinthine Heart_
by: Brian Meloon (5 out of 5)
Subgenres of metal seem to follow a predictable pattern. First come the inventors, who define the style and delineate its boundaries. Next come the innovators, who expand the style and stretch these boundaries. And then come the also-rans, who happily tread the same ground that's already been covered. Unfortunately, the large majority of bands are also-rans, and after a few years, the genre stagnates and appears on the verge of fading away. And then, into this stagnant pool of banality come a new set of bands who breathe new life into the genre by infusing new ideas and experimenting once again. Winter Bestowed fall into this final category, doing for the Gothenburg sound what bands like Cryptopsy and Deeds of Flesh did for death metal. This four-song demo can be summed up as "technical Gothenburg-style metal", though such a short description is bound to be somewhat misleading. The main comparison that needs to be made to connect Winter Bestowed to the Gothenburg scene are to the faster songs from Dark Tranquillity's _The Gallery_. Winter Bestowed have a similar way of structuring their riffs and melodies and their vocalist has a similar delivery. However, Winter Bestowed sound like what Dark Tranquillity would've sounded like had they continued the more technical and aggressive progression that their first few albums showed. They also sound to me like what Epoch of Unlight's _Caught in the Unlight!_ should've been, instead of the tepid and ultimately forgettable offering that it turned out to be. Winter Bestowed are able to combine frenetic technicality with melodic memorability, without losing the best qualities of each. Aside from a few slightly sloppy sections, the music is very well played, and the technicality of the music makes these few sections understandable. About the only complaint I have with this demo is that it lacks diversity. While the four songs on here are great, I could imagine a whole album of this style could get a little boring. This is strongly recommended for fans of the Gothenburg style, and of technical and melodic metal in general. Great stuff, guys!


(article published 12/8/2001)

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