|Review: Windir - 1184|
Label: Head Not Found
Year released: 2001
Genre: Viking Metal
Review online: February 22, 2009
Reviewed by: Brett Buckle
Rated 4.6/5 (92%) (35 Votes)
Windir are most often labeled as Black Metal, and while there are indeed plentiful Black elements in their music, the moniker does not do them justice. In reality what we have is epic, melodic, soaring, proud and grandiose Heavy Metal, heavily folk-influenced and with a large nod to Bathory-styled Viking Metal. Windir’s main man Valfar does indeed have a piercing, harsh Black Metal style of the highest quality, and the songs are often very fast, but this is Heavy Metal for Heavy Metal fans, and 2001's 1184 has the honour of being one of the best metal albums ever created.
There are no bad songs on 1184, just masterpieces of metal infused with pummeling drums, furious folk-infused riffs, soaring melodic keys and a proud, upright style that will have you banging your head with a sincerity reserved only for the classics. I dare you to listen to the all out Metal Glory of "The Spiritlord", or the tremolo driven melodies and relentless drumming of "Heidra", and not bang your fucking head until you pull every single muscle in your neck. "Black New Age" is the heaviest track on the album as demonstrates the sheer power that Windir can generate with furious drums, crushing riffs, an omnipresent melodic lead guitar, intense keyboards and Valfar screaming his arsehole out before fading out to another infinitely melodic keyboard section. Just fucking awesome. The folk elements are delivered exclusively via guitars and keyboards with none of the traditional instrumentation so common in Folk Metal, and while it would no doubt have been nice to have some of those instruments present, their absence does not detract even a little bit from the excellence of the music. As with most Viking Metal, the music here is loud and proud, sword in hand and held high in salute to all warriors of metal. Damn, this is starting to sound cheesy, but just because my words are getting a bit whiffy, don’t think that the music is the same – it may take a few listens for the true awesomeness of this album to grab you but when it does the words cheesy or trite will be very far from your mind. When Valfar bursts into the huge clean vocal segments that litter the disc you will be standing there, horns held high, singing along with a grin to put the Cheshire Cat to shame plastered across your lips. Besides the all out metal assault Windir also deliver some really intriguing keyboard-only riffage – "Journey to the End" is a huge track that begins with a eminently headbangable melodic riff and some great folksy verses, but the last six of its nine and a half minutes is filled with masterful keyboards over drums without a guitar in sight and it just totally kills everything in sight while being as serene as falling snow. It captures the sound of cold, harsh northern winters far better than any sample ever could. As a final clincher, the production is perfect, with every note of every instrument clearly audible and given a great fat metal tone.
The one thing that 1184 delivers that so many albums do not is memorable riffs and melodies – every track has multiple sections that will stick in your head long after the CD has stopped spinning, and as they run through your head you will be struck again and again with a nigh on insuppressible urge to listen to the real thing. This is why it is a classic, and, when coupled with the fact that Windir has written a harsh and heavy album that will appeal to all fans of heavy music, you quite simply owe it to yourself to have this CD in your collection because this is what people mean when they say essential.
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