Winter - Into Darkness
These days, Sunn O))) might be seen as the cool band for “out there” hipsters, yet long before they (or even formative band Burning Witch), there was Earth, the godfathers of doom drone. And go back even further into the murky depths of metal’s history, and you come to Winter, a band all but lost to the annuls of time - yet without whom the aforementioned are likely never to have existed. Forged from the New York death metal scene of the later 80s where everyone was trying to go faster than everyone else with each new record, Winter went in the opposite direction and slowed the whole show down to a absolute crawl.
Their one and only album, Into Darkness, now deserves its place in folklore as the start of something very special and unique: opener ‘Oppression Freedom Oppression (Reprise)’ is very much the blueprint for the entire genre that followed in its wake, the deep and monumentally heavy guitars droning at a pace that makes snails look like Usain Bolt. The sound quality may be decidedly ropey, but despite this handicap Winter still manage to convey a bleakness that is weighed down by the burden of all human sorrow. It does leave the listener wondering just how devastating the whole album might have been had the recording been of a higher quality, if only...
The hallmarks of the surrounding scene are still very much engraved on the music of Into Darkness however, and unlike their successors, Winter’s music varies substantially in tempo. This is executed no more brilliantly than in the closing title track, nine minutes of malignant sound waves utterly eliminating any happy thoughts as it shifts from Jurassic lumbering to pummelling ferocity without losing an ounce of its primitive heaviness. And thus the revolution began.