Partly by design and partly because people have terrible memories for this kind of stuff, the ties between black metal and heavy metal have been obscured by time. Through thrash, the genre to which it owes its speed and abrasiveness, black metal inherited many of the qualities which made the “original” flavors of metal so good. Today, as black metal has diverged into so many sub-genres, it’s rare to hear bands harking back to those foundations, sounds and ideas but when it happens, it’s extremely satisfying. Take Winter Eternal for example. Their latest album, Realm of the Bleeding Shadows, is steeped in this kind of sound, with massive riffs placing it firmly in the melodic black metal sub-genre. But add on an extremely prominent bass tone and mix and a traditional song structure and you suddenly get something way more interesting and different.
Just listen to that bass go! Some might not like it but I love how prominent and central it is. Couple that with the almost galloping rhythm of the track, the acoustic break in the middle of it (arpeggios ringing clearly, singing over that bass, and pouring into a moving guitar line) and the Iron Maiden comparisons start to shine super clear. It’s really rare to see a black metal band go back to this kind of old-school sound these days and do it so well and so true to the source. For Winter Eternal, because the song writing and production are so on point, it works extremely well, creating a moving and effective album.
If you like what you heard on “Darkness Guides Me”, there’s plenty more where that came from; tracks like the title track or “The Secrets of Time” (with its excellent opening riff) do much to explore and expand on this sound. The album is out right now and you can (and should) grab it from the band’s Bandcamp page.