VINTERLAND - Welcome My Last Chapter (TEMPLE OF DARKNESS - CD 2010)
I can truly say that “Welcome My Last Chapter” is one of my all time favourite albums and at the time of its release, around 1996, it probably was also one of the most listened albums by me. I bought the cassette version of it, which Mystic Production released in Poland and I loved everything in it – starting with the cover, band photos and the whole layout and finishing with amazing music. Truly Vinterland was an important band for me at that time and I can say that they were my favourite Swedish black metal band also… I preferred them over Dissection even (I don’t know if I still do though hehe) or Sacramentum or any other such band, which the Swedish metal scene has been spawning like crazy, thanks to the No Fashion / House of Kicks label. Anyway, as much as I liked “Welcome My Last Chapter” it was also quite sad that the band never went anywhere further with this album and never did its predecessor, soon splitting up, which is a shame of corpse. They should have definitely do something more, but at least I had my tape of “Welcome My Last Chapter” to listen to. For years I tried to buy the CD version of it also, but the prices were so ridiculous that I gave up. Temple of Darkness helped me with it, re-releasing it in new version. Although I was expecting the LP version to be released also as there were plans to do that, but since two years have passed and nothing was happening I got tired waiting for the vinyl and finally decided to purchase the re-release CD version of “Welcome My Last Chapter”. And I must say that Temple of Darkness did great job with this 15th year’s anniversary edition. It comes in a grey box and inside you’ll find the sticker, small poster with the band, a certificate, which will tell you that there are only 2000 copies made of this album and finally there’s also the CD. It comes with totally changed artwork and layout. Unfortunately the original front cover is gone, which is something I hate. It is stupid when they change the cover artwork… They should always keep the original one, and if they want to put a new one, then they should at least put the old one somewhere inside of the booklet. The re-release of “Welcome My Last Chapter” comes with new cover, with a new sign of Vinterland, which is a big V letter, shaped like the horns, which is OK, but I liked the original artwork more. What is good about the new layout is the collection of old Vinterland photos, taken between 1993 and 1996. It definitely is a great collection of old photos of the band, although those from the first press CD are also missing here hehe. What I don’t like about this re-issue is also the lack of the lyrics. I know that originally the booklet also didn’t have them, but something like a reissue definitely should! But that’s just my opinion. All in all Temple of Darkness did great job with this re-release. I hope that they’ll finally manage to release it on vinyl also!!!!!!
Now speaking of the music… to be honest, nowadays I know “Welcome My Last Chapter” by every detail and sound. You can wake me up in the night and I’ll tell you what band and sometimes even what song it is, I know exactly how the album is built and remember and can “sing” probably all the riffs from it. I don’t know how many times I’ve listened to it in those 15 years, but it was a lot, but why I consider “Welcome My Last Chapter” to be one of my favourite albums of all times is the fact that despite all of this I still find a lot of joy and enthusiasm, when I listen to it. I definitely cannot say that this album started to bore me. You know, there are many other old albums from the past, which I also know deeply now because I have listened to them hundreds of times… like Grave’s “Soulless” for instance, I used to like this LP much, but because I know it so well nowadays then now when I pay it I feel almost tired and bored with it. Nothing like that happens, when “Welcome My Last Chapter” crushes the walls of my house. It definitely is one of the best, if not the best melodic black metal LP from Sweden from that time. Obviously it is deeply influenced by Dissection, mainly by their “The Somberlain” and as such there probably aren’t many stylistic differences between Vinterland and some other bands from this genre like Sacramentum, The Moaning, Throne of Ahaz, A Canorous Quintet and Allegiance. But despite that there’s a certain uniqueness and extremely good quality, what puts “Welcome My Last Chapter” above all the albums, which those other bands have ever released. The songwriting on “Welcome My Last Chapter” is just amazing. I have a feeling like Vinterland have composed some of the best tracks and riffs or melodies that have ever been created! Their ability to create a dark and cold atmosphere by playing those infectiously catchy and memorable riffs, harmonies and melodies is awesome, but Vinterland had also a lot of energy, ruthless aggression and passion, so when I listen to “Welcome My Last Chapter” I feel like they have balanced all those things in the most perfect way! Not even once I can say that the music becomes too melodic or too soft, even when VInterland plays some acoustic parts or pianos or whatever, and you must remember that they add those instruments quite often here. But that doesn’t make their album too mellow, as there always are fast and aggressive parts right next to those atmospheric ones. And there will even be many fragments, when Vinterland takes a lot of influences from the good old Bathory, creating even more epic playing and grand atmosphere.
As one of the finest examples for what the music of Vinterland is like I could probably mention “Our Dawn of Glory” here, which is an opening track. It offers exactly everything what makes Vinterland music so unique. It’s opened by a short acoustic and calm part, which quickly is bombarded by furious and extremely fast black metal violence. Later on Vinterland changes the tempo and type of riffing more than once, incorporating also those harmonic riffs and also some acoustic fillers. There’s everything you can desire and everything is amazingly well played. But “Our Dawn of Glory”, although a great opener, is not my favourite song from the album. However extremely difficult it is to pick up two or three most impressive tracks from “Welcome My Last Chapter”, such anthems of winter as “I’m Another in the Night”, “A Castle So Crystal Clear”, “Wings of Sorrow”, “As I Behold the Dying Sun” and even the instrumental passage of “So Far Beyond... (The Great Vastforest)” are all impressive and utterly perfect.
This re-release of “Welcome My Last Chapter” also has a bonus track. To be honest I hoped to get both Vinterland demos here, as they’re nowhere available and it would be amazing to have them on the CD, but there’s just one song extra and it is Mayhem’s “Freezing Moon” cover. Hmm, to be honest it is rather useless. It isn’t terrible or whatever, but very forgettable, maybe due to the very raw and primitive sound, which is far from the crystal clean, powerful and aggressive sound of the “Welcome My Last Chapter”. It almost doesn’t fit to the real album, so harsh is the sound of this cover. But who cares, this is pure black metal, right? And definitely this cover doesn’t spoil the joy of listening to the Vinterland’s music. It really is one of the best Swedish black metal albums in the history, one which definitely should stand right next to “The Somberlain”, “Secrets of the Black Art” and “Opus Nocturne”. It is the epitome of this style!
Standout tracks: “I’m Another in the Night”, “A Castle So Crystal Clear”, “Wings of Sorrow”, “As I Behold the Dying Sun”, “Our Dawn of Glory”
Final rate: 99/100