“There are no risks played on White Death, but it stays true to a sense of traditional riff structures, composition, and use of melody often most associated with early black metal.”
Born from the Unholy Fire
Immortal Hunter of the Moon
White Death’s Power
Finnish black metal group White Death was founded in 2013 with their first releases, a promo and an EP, coming out in 2014. A single-track split with Forlor followed in 2016. Now, in 2017, through Werewolf Records in conspiracy with Hells Headbangers Records, White Death have their first proper full-length album release.
With membership that ties them to other Finnish acts such as Goatmoon, Vritrahn-Werwolf, and Horna (though some of these ties are faint), White Death keep pace with their countrymates in the production of underground and aggressive black metal distinctively flavored with the Finnish aesthetic.
Production is modern, however, there is no excess polish to the sound. Across the board, the sound has a flatter attack and more sense of control of sonic extremities otherwise championed by many current-era bands. Guitars are a distorted crunch that sound like early Gorgoroth with a modern facelift, drums are innocent with a more middle-oriented bass drum sound and warm snare, vocals snarl out atop the music with a Pest-era Obtained Enslavement-like delivery.
None of the material on White Death ever sinks below average quality. Beginning with ‘Born from the Unholy Fire’, an up-tempo ripper that walks through various minor chord progressions accompanied with tremolo-picked single note melodies to dictate tension, there is an obvious sense of craftsmanship towards the construction and arrangement of the music. There are no risks played on White Death, but it stays true to a sense of traditional riff structures, composition, and use of melody often most associated with early black metal.
‘Immortal Hunter of the Moon’ is a song of interest.
Opening with a riff that grinds out like something off Those of the Unlight, it plays through its phrase before splitting into a rhythm/accompanying melody for the chorus section and enters into a truly top-tier bridge. A beautiful melodic phrase plays out, those whose minds have not been totally drained by the joys of this systemic reality, people who still have an active imagination, these people will see some epic things in their mind’s eye during this section. It’s guitar writing like this that is part of the frozen timelessness of black metal.
White Death progresses into two tracks, ‘Kaste’ and ‘Goat Emperor’, which are more straightforward in their delivery. ‘Warpath’ shows off melodicism with a slight folk leaning, invoking imagery of older Windir material, and helps offset the pace established by previous tracks through use of more atmosphere. Synths on ‘Warpath’, throughout White Death, are simply accents, never taking a driving position, and not coming off as obstructive.
‘Cunt’ and ‘Commandant’ play much like ‘Kaste’ and ‘Goat Emperor’, basic rhythmic phrasing accompanied by an emotion-dictating melody. Much as the previously mentioned tracks share a lot of commonality with one another, the album closer, ‘White Death’s Power’ shares songwriting themes with ‘Immortal Hunter of the Moon’.
Clean guitars work their way through basic chord patterns before evolving into the lead melodic force of the song, appearing as a motif between verse passages. Clean vocals eventually accompany the melody and carry the album into its final resolution. White Death’s debut is devoid of the modern day black metal trappings. It has enough melodicism that individual songs develop their own characters, songs are delivered with an authenticity outside of the popup-Halloween-stores-in-early-November approach of typical “black metal” releases of today. A solid debut for a band that deserves attention moving forward.