The sounds of winter have never been so cold, yet so welcome. Last year, Siberia’s Neverending Winter released their full length Хиус, which I had the pleasure of reviewing (spoiler alert: I liked it a lot). Now Сеногной, the four-piece’s latest EP, brings the same energy and blackened aggression to the table as that album did, but plays up the heaviness instead of folk influence to create a jagged, visceral work of ingenuity that can only be described as awesome. This is genuine metal with the power, feeling, and delicate craftsmanship of artists who not only care about their work, but know how to respect their influences while making something completely new and exciting.
The EP is comprised of three songs, a very literal beginning, middle and end. I am reminded of Gustav Freytag’s analysis of dramatic structure for classical plays: there is the exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and dénouement (conclusion). With just under fifteen minutes of running time, Сеногной plows through this anatomy in lightning-fast succession.
On the EP’s opening track “New Dawn,” which we’re thrilled to be premiering here today at the Vault, we are greeted with the sound of wind swooshing all around and faint coos of wildlife over light acoustic strings before being bombarded with a distorted, frigid, melodious blackened riff that begins EP’s journey. The song leads almost directly into “Frost Leash,” the EP’s centerpiece, which fires on all cylinders with punk-influenced d-beats and a transition into its punishing, monstrous midsection held together by a churning rhythm. “I rule here forever/I am emperor of none/I am filling this vessel with grief/That will never be gone,” the band’s frontman Ivan barks in his raspy growl, sounding more like an orc from Lord of the Rings than the guitarist of a metal group. As “Frost Leash” fades out, the EP’s finale/title track, an eight minute affair, swings into motion with a purposeful mid-tempo stride met by interchanging sections of the fearsome, frantic sound this band pulls off so well and slower pieces with the underlying folk melodies that helped make Хиус so memorable.
The intensity of my love affair with Neverending Winter’s heavily crust-influenced sound grows stronger each time I listen to the band. Their blend of black/crust/folk styles creates a raw, yet simultaneously diverse tone that is simply theirs and no one else’s. You can be as much a fan of Darkthrone as Extreme Noise Terror and still find something to enjoy here. The crust sound and blackened riffs/vocals pair together like bread and butter, and when the music gets decidedly folky, the melodies glide over one another in sublime fashion.
Hearkening back to my remark about Gustav’s dramatic structure, the EP begins and ends on softer notes. The music builds up and asserts itself with speed and force before climaxing into the slow break of “Frost Leash”’s back half, followed by the cool-down of the title track and its peaceful ending. In less than fifteen minutes, Neverending Winter accomplish more than most of their black metal contemporaries could with twice as much time.
Keeping with the prevalent theme nature has in most of their efforts, “Сеногной” translates into english as “drizzle-drozzle,” which is defined by Merriam-Webster as “a gentle, continuous rainfall.” The EP’s final lyrics relate to this rainfall washing everything away. Slowly but surely, at the rate they are going, I can’t help but feel that Neverending Winter may do the same with their contemporaries. This is a band to listen for, with the musical chops to justify doing so. Don’t sleep on this one.
Сеногной will be released on January 27 through the Neverending Winter Bandcamp page.