A couple of miles down the road from the squalid petty squabbles of Westminster, Camden’s Incineration fest provided the perfect blistering antidote to the horrors of Brexit. And the impassioned set of one band in particular, home-grown UK talents Winterfylleth, was a timely reminder of what truly makes this country great.
Founded in 2007 Winterfylleth are late to the scene and tend to sit on the more dulcet end of the black metal spectrum, but in performance their music takes on a harsher edge. Favouring their darker tracks over their acoustic, folk-inspired instrumentals, their live set was as ragingly intense as any of the more brutal acts on the Incineration line-up. With so many bands looking to the Vikings and Celts to fire their imaginations, Winterfylleth immediately stood out with their focus on the oft-overlooked glories of our Anglo-Saxon heritage. The worshipful, buoyant notes of opening number 'The Divination of Antiquity' were a clear homage to England’s past, while 'The Honour of Good Men on the Path to Eternal Glory' launched a torrent of brutal blast beats and crashing riffs that reflected the more violent, yet no less inspiring, side of its history. Influenced by pastoral poetry and the philosophy of the sublime, 'A Valley Thick with Oaks' and 'Whisper of the Elements' evoked both the lonely serenity and the terrifying majesty of Britain’s natural landscapes with melodies as invigorating as crisp mountain streams, riffs that rose like soaring peaks and raw-throated, powerfully heartfelt vocals.
Finally, the rippling rivers of distortion and dirge-like chords of 'Mam Tor (The Shivering Mountain)', an ode to an especially scenic spot in the Peak District, were a cathartic release from the stresses of the working week as refreshing as that first satisfying sip of day-time festival beer accompanying their early-afternoon performance - and a healing balm to the divisions within our torn nation. Emotionally resonant and uniquely patriotic in an inclusive, rather than jingoistic, kind of way, Winterfylleth are perhaps just the alternative we need to the odious far right ideologies ever-threatening to hijack the metal scene - and indeed everything else we hold sacred.