Winter Villains – February

Autumn is upon us, and as days fall shorter and nights become bitter, never has there been a better time for Winter Villains to emerge with their debut album, February. Through a blend of choral vocals and experimental music, the album superbly captures the essence of winter and stands as an exquisite accolade to the cold, dark months that loom in the distance.

The spirit of the album is captured immediately through its prelude, “We Stepped into the Night”: a slow piano piece that hints at the serene sound of the overall album. A minimalist approach is adopted throughout resembling a sound from Sigur Ros, yet the vast use of orchestral instruments gives the music a wonderfully unique flavour.

The album explores a huge variety of sounds and boasts extensive musicality. Winter Villains are not afraid to experiment with unusual instruments, which create some beautiful unique moments in the tracks. The xylophone and piano combination used in “Thorns” is a brave step away from the mainstream and an admirable incorporation of classical music into their contemporary style.

Vocally, each song has a blend of stunning harmonies that possess a strong choral influence, often adding a hymnal quality to them. At times, the songs become almost prayer-like, as though worshiping the season. At the start of “Patterns”, for example, the hypnotic vocals resemble the sound of meditation, before a sudden change in tempo where a chant begins “we’ll follow patterns with no reason, all our patterns out of season”.     

What is charming about this album is how it almost recalls a soundtrack, as though it should be accompanying the natural processes and elements common of winter. This is particularly prominent in the short musical interludes, like “Icicles Have Formed From Our Tear”, a metaphorical piece that produces a delicate ringing sound like a winter’s icicle. There is also frequent use of a wind sound in the background of some tracks, which conjures the image of a blizzard striking nature and sending it into wintery deprivation.

February delves into the depths of the dark and gloomy and celebrates something that others dare not. It is an idealisation of winter that is done with real musical grace, a stunning album from a band truly worthy of success.

 Release: 8th October 2012, Barely Regal Records

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