Winterhorde – Neptunian


The Israeli progressive death/black/heavy metal act have really outdone themselves with this one, harnessing melodic and symphonic elements in a unique and innovative way. The album offers a variety of captivating tracks that range from three minute heavy hitters to nine minute epics. With multiple vocal styles (both harsh and clean), expert song writing and instrumental complexity, the album will leave a lasting impression on those who find the time to experience it in full.

Artist: Winterhorde
Album: Neptunian
Label: Noble Demon
Release Date: December 8, 2023
Location: Israel

Written by James Sweetlove

Neptunian immediately grabs the listener from its opening moments. Dramatic, powerful, epic complex are just a few of the words that the first few minutes of the album bring to mind and that’s before the vocals even start. The Israeli progressive symphonic/melodic death/black/heavy metal act have really outdone themselves with this one.

As anyone who reads my reviews knows, I’m extremely picky with symphonic metal of any kind, finding much of it to be boring and unoriginal or to get the proportions of base genre to symphonic elements all wrong. I am extremely happy to report that Neptunian avoids all of these pitfalls and gives us something to celebrate.

The album opens brilliantly with the epic seven minute track Amphibia, a song that sets the tone for the rest of the album. It takes its time to gradually build up power, growing more and more epic and dramatic with an array of varied instruments at play. Finally the vocals hit and they hit hard, with a harsh barked guttural tone that falls clearly in the death metal realm. To come still on this powerful track are more biting black metal vocals, layered black and depth vocals and epic lean vocals that have a proggy power/heavy metal sort of presentation to them. What I also love about this track is that it tells a very clear story that the listener can easily follow and adds to its immersiveness with sound effects of the ocean, bird calls and more. I’m not going to break down every track on the album, but I feel as if unpacking  this one song will give you a c;ear idea of what makes this album special.

What may turn off some extreme metal fans is the cleanness of the album’s production, it sounds more epic than harsh. However I think that’s to be expected with symphonic metal and in this case it works in favour of the album’s overall sound. In particular the clean vocals in the release benefit hugely from this production and really help the album to pop auditorily.

I should also clarify that the release isn’t all seven minute epics, as many of the songs on the album run for three minutes or less. There are of course other epics though, with some running as long as nine minutes. Longer tracks such as The Spirit of Freedom give us an epic heavy metal offering, while other lengthy songs like With Hands Against the Storm are far heavier with a death metal focus. Shorter punchier songs like The Garden are more direct in their in your face delivery.

Overall I was a big fan of this album, and found it to be a refreshing and innovative take on the genre. I think many fans of symphonic extreme metal will find plenty to love about this release. The first track alone should be enough to lure you in and the rest of the album will keep you listening.

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