Draugûl – Winterspell Review

Author : Laura Cosheril

Late last year you might have read my review of KHAOSPATH’s new release “… For The Devil Speaks The Truth”. DRAUGUL is the solo project of KHAOSPATH frontman Vargblod. Formed in 2009 “Winterspell” is the fourth release. This project started out in Malta and for the past three years the project is stationed in Sweden. The first aspect that caught my eye was the name, DRAUGUL is in the tongue of Mordor and roughly translating to “The Curse of The Wolf”, this makes a nerd like me feel all fuzzy and warm inside.

The album cover has a Viking-type tapestry feel, it’s beautiful! The runes and Shaman are a really thoughtful touch and an ode to Sweden.

One of the first things I noticed about this album, was the pure seamlessness of it all. Sometimes with solo projects there is a robotic and very linear sound to their music, this is definitely not the case here; infact it sounds like a full band is playing on the album and it’s captivating to say the least. The variety of instruments, tones and sounds are impressive (albeit sometimes a bit overboard) it’s hard to fault the overall structure and instrument sound, it’s all very natural.

This album seems to be almost split into two parts, the first half seems to be more Black Metal / Traditional Folk sounding, while the last half seems to be almost Power Metal. It’s almost as though Vargblod is taking us through a story; in a story there are many different elements and there are twists and turns which is exactly what happens in this album.

My absolute favourite track is track four: “Chant of The Ravencult”. This is a track that could give WARDRUNA themselves a run for their money. It’s relaxing, traditional and downright epic and literally gave me head tingles. My only complaint here is that there is no other track like it on the album, almost like a happy accident, I would have loved to hear more tracks like this. The vocals were enchanting in a way that hasn’t been done correctly for an age (apart from WARDRUNA).

The following track “Trollsbane” is a great ode to its predecessor, it’s the perfect blend of traditional Scandinavian music mixed with Black Metal. Everything blends so well, the eerie, heavy guitar and the traditional elements go hand in hand perfectly and makes for relaxing yet menacing listening.

From this track onwards is where my only true issue with this album arises… The pesky synth. Synth is good, when it’s used properly, I don’t think this album needed any synth at all, it takes away from the epic feeling of the album. Not only this but I feel the synth was overdone on the last half of the album, it was everywhere and it was overwhelming at times when mixed with all the other elements of each track and in some cases (Wytches) sounded messy, purely due to the synth.

All in all this is a top quality album. I will admit I preferred the Traditional / Black Metal approach than the Power Metal approach. Vargblod really knows how to use his instruments and make them work to his visions and truly make the story come alive. The hiccups in this album are very minor and while irritating at first, do grow on you after a few listens. We’re taken on a truly epic journey through the ages, with the evil allure of a Siren song and that intelligent charm of a Bard song, Vargblod nails this album.

Rating: 4/5

Tracklist:
1. Fjällstorm
2. Hagalaz
3. Winterspell
4. Chant of the Ravencult
5. Trollsbane
6. Wytches (Inkubus Sukkubus cover)
7. Byssan Lull
8. The Fall of Gondolin
9. Smoke Rises from the Mountain of Doom
10. Lake of Unnumbered Tears

Band:
Hellcommander Vargblod – Vocals, Guitars, Bass, Keyboards, Flutes, Mouth harp, Drum programming

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