Winterfylleth@Hard Rock Hell United, Pwllheli, North Wales, March 13 2015

While legendary British black metaller Dani Filth was also on the Hammerfest bill, fronting his Devilment project, it was Winterfylleth who truly flew the flag for UK BM this weekend. The North West quartet are viewed as the burgeoning scene’s standard bearers, holding the banner aloft for a movement which is richly diverse and in no way playing second fiddle to its Nordic elder brother. 

It was good news for fans, then, that the band’s near hour-long slot gave them plenty of scope to draw from their four-album career. Good news too, that new guitarist Dan Capp has integrated seamlessly into the line-up, ensuring that every rousing melody, every sparkling moment of windswept black metal, was delivered with aplomb.

Indeed, while some bands need elaborate stage sets to help them create a sense of awe, Winterfylleth transport you to ancient landscapes and long-forgotten battles with the help of just a few stirring chord progressions.

On Friday they celebrated their past with opener Mam Tor (The Shivering Mountain) hewn from debut album The Ghost Of Heritage, and the incredible A Valley Thick With Oaks from 2010’s landmark opus, The Mercian Sphere, while showing their more expansive, mellower side with A Careworn Heart, a superbly-crafted offering found on 2014’s The Divination of Antiquity.

Granted, Winterfylleth lack the stage presence of a group like Primordial, who inhabit a similar musical space, and you won’t see lead vocalist/guitarist Chris Naughton bounding around the stage like James Hetfield any time soon. However, he doesn’t really need to: the power of this act’s music is so great that they can completely enthral an audience… especially when they have an extended slot in which to work their magic.

A Hammerfest headliner in the making? Perhaps not. But the four-piece proved once again that they are now one of this country’s finest extreme metal outfits… and a band who are continuing to evolve, mature and inspire.

Richard Holmes

Exclusive image courtesy of John Burrows