13 Winters - _Where the Souls Wander_
(Dark Valley Records, 2004)
by: Quentin Kalis (5 out of 10)
Despite being released in 2004, the band is heavily promoting this album to stir interest as they prepare to unleash a follow-up in the coming months. _WtSW_ is ostensibly an exercise in post-Cradle black-sympho-goth metal, but the music is rawer, simpler and less reliant on tremolo riffing. It's hard to avoid comparing this to Wykked Wytch, another female fronted band operating in post-Cradle territory, but 13 Winters possess a far less polished sound, with a greater emphasis on the rhythm guitar and a stronger allegiance to black metal.

Female growlers and screechers are still a novelty, though not so much that they support an inherently weak album, but Die Winters can comfortably compete against any male growler. The same cannot be said for the clean vocals, which lie somewhere between spoken word and a dreary monotone. And what is that hideous moan on "Mote it Be"? Although her work is (mostly) above average, the same cannot be said of her band mates, whose work is perfunctory at best. The exception is "The Dead", which possesses an endearing naiveté that elevates it above the rest. 13 Winters appear to have recognised this as their most potent number, as not only does it open the album, but they have made a video and include a live version of this song as a "hidden" (i.e. it arrives unannounced midway through the album) track.

Interestingly, at least one of the tracks is a paean to witchery, a nice change from the usual hammer-wavin' odes to Odin, Czernobog or whatever, and long overdue given that metal and Wicca have both flirted with the goth subculture. The remainder are what one would expect from songs entitled "Cold, Dark, Empty" and "Dark Embrace".

Four years has passed since this album was recorded, more than enough time to effect a major improvement, but this album will not inspire people to have a listen to their sophomore outing.

Contact: http://www.dark-valley-records.com

(article published 27/4/2008)

2/24/2009 Q Kalis 7.5 13 Winters - Dark Palace of Waterfalls
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