Good things come to those who wait? Patience is a virtue? Some records come together pretty quickly while others are a writers labor of love. Brothers Jeremy Farfan (Guitar, Vocals), Efrain Farfan (Guitar, Vocals) formed Winter Nights back in 2007 with Manolo Estrada (Drums) and Martin Tune (Bass) and took 7 years to get their debut album “An Endless Apocalypse” released into the World in 2014. To be fair, they did self release a self-titled demo EP in 2008, followed by another EP “From Darkness Till Dawn” in 2011 but neither are readily available. Believe it or not, it’s follow up was recorded between 2015 and 2019 at Atomic Sound in Red Hook Brooklyn, New York with Dakota Bowman (except “Unmarked Grave” and “Encounters” which also had Oliver Palomares lend a hand) before being mixed by Neil Kernon (Flotsam And Jetsam, Cannibal Corpse, Nevermore) and mastered by Alan Douches (Misfits, Converge, Skinlab) at West West Side Music. As of 2020, drummer James Yarusinsky as joined the band replacing Estrada, however his work doesn’t appear on this album and half the tracks (“Encounters“, “Unmarked Grave“, and “Starved For Energy“) have fill in Andrew Lobosco performing.
The crushing despair of “When December Burns” opens the album in with Melodic Death Metal vibe that has Black Metal roots and lyrically searches though bleak thoughts of self-immolation (death by setting oneself on fire). That theme is developed on throughout the album with each song looking at various ways to do oneself in and on this one there is a mournful sense of regret that plays out beautifully musically. “Starved For Energy” is the first of the Lobosco drum tracks and the quality of musicianship is an instant step up on the previous track. Somehow they have managed to keep the flow of the album together with the opening cut recorded in 2019 and the second one recorded in 2016, partly by having the same engineer, the same studio and the same guitar tone but capturing that same atmospheric is what makes it. The darkness of the lyrics is a deep as the Death Metal growls of Jeremy Farfan and when “Withdrawls” kicks in with a higher tempo and menacing leads, it’s a moment of masterly that takes a leaf from the Amon Amarth playbook. If the solo is a lighthouse, the blast beats are the crashing waves that threaten to drag the ship to the black depths and when that Thrashed up whammy bar moment hits, it is nothing short of immense.
Whats interesting about “Unmarked Grave” is that is has an almost Viking style Sea Shanty style to it with the rise and fall of the sea caught in the swirling musical performance. A provocative, despairing, genuine composition, it’s brightened up by a Progressive Metal solo and funky bass segment that sounds like it belongs to Dream Theater until those blackened vocals return. Soaked in perpetual blast beats “Day The Sun Died” plunges us back into the black depths with a doom laden lyric and some interesting bass melodies. The guitars are loaded with arpeggios and Black Metal fueled moments while reading that lyric sheet it would be easy to imagine Chris Cornell singing them, may he rest in peace, as they have that same mournful tone to them. Opening up the throttle “Encounters” takes the Melodic Blackened Death Metal up a a notch in the higher octane stakes but keeps all of the skill firmly on show with some intricate solo work before a killer Thrash part that brings in the first verse in. A powerhouse track, “My encounters of the frozen north, Are coming to kill your world” is the lyric that is going to chanted at those shows. For the most part, this self titled record is a seamless continuation of the sound the Farfan brothers created with “An Endless Apocalypse” and that is no mean feat [7.5/10]
1. When December Burns (5:47)
2. Starved For Energy (4:09)
3. Withdrawals (4:11)
4. Unmarked Grave (4:52)
5. Day The Sun Died (4:01)
6. Encounters (5:19)
“Self Titled” by Winter Nights is out 31st July and available for pre-order over at bandcamp