Sometimes, I think that the only reason why metalheads champion the most obscure bands on the planet is to cushion their street credibility. If you've ever gone to a metal show, you know that it's a thinly veiled contest to see who is wearing the baddest "underground" band shirt. No one ever admits it, but listening to music that the rest of the world hasn't discovered yet makes you feel special. When it came to Winter, an eco-friendly trio credited with fructifying funeral doom, I figured that they had an ardent cult following thanks, in part, to their near anonymity. As it turns out, they kicked a whole lot of ass in their day.

Winter released one full-length album, 1990's Into Darkness. This isn't the wistful, melodic funeral doom that bands such as Evoken and Shape of Despair popularized. This is crusty, low-fi thunder sludge that borrows from subgenres that you wouldn't normally associate with doom of any kind. Which subgenres? Try hardcore and powerviolence. Lyrically speaking, Winter is far removed from the likes of Trouble or Saint Vitus. These dudes might use ominous metaphors, but at its core, Into Darkness is a collection of songs about the environment. You could call this a "green doom" record. Y'know, if you were one of those douchebags who feels the need to label everything.

Sonically, "bleak" and "caustic" are adjectives that spring to mind when I describe this stuff to other people. The guitar tone is fucking brutal. I can honestly say that I've never heard guitars quite like these. They rumble like vacuum cleaners from Hell (I would totally pay to see a movie called Vacuum Cleaners From Hell). Obviously, the tempos range from slow to slower. "Servants of the Warsmen" is the fastest track here, and it gives off a strong Celtic Frost vibe. "Oppression Freedom/Reprise" and "Eternal Frost" are eerie epics that get mucho mileage out of a couple of apocalyptic notes. This is a case where less is more.

Vocalist John Alman has a wicked death growl. His biodegradable croaks are front and center in the mix, which is a good thing...and a bad thing. Good because the vocals are killer; bad because the drums are buried underneath a mound of aural turbulence. Into Darkness is held back by an uneven production. You really have to crank the shit out of it to enjoy it, and that can be a problem if your parents are trying to sleep in the room adjacent to yours. But hey, fuck 'em! It's not your fault that Winter is more metal than they are.

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