REVIEW: WINDSWEPT – “The Onlooker”
Ukrainian band Windswept is another one of the projects of Roman Sayenko (of Drudkh fame). Windswept started in 2017 with ‘The Great Cold Steppe’ being their debut album, and they followed it by the EP ‘Visionaire’ in earlier this year. ‘The Onlooker’ is their sophomore album that features fast-paced emotive and raw black metal. You can describe it as a slightly more visceral and less folksy that Drudkh.
Projects from people being associated with well-respected and established bands usually cause a great amount of intrigue and anticipation, about how they would stand against its cousin projects and how these branches build their individuality and reason for being so that they stand out and artistically make sense. “Why was this released as a different project and not part of the more well-known project?”, “How does this artistically complement the members’ other work?” – are some of the structuralist questions we try to figure out.
Windswept take a more stripped down approach to the atmospheric black metal when compared to their counterparts, and that can be observed on ‘The Onlooker’ as well. It never slows down and stitches one fast-paced riff after another. It makes it listening to the album a breeze, but the emotional riffing still keeps you alert and involved.
Musically the album brings nothing new to the genre, but that bodes well with the reminiscing, anti-modern and nostalgic lyrical themes explored on the album. There are some hints of the Hate Forest coldness in here as well, another band Roman Sayenko was involved in before disbanding. In fact, this album fits perfectly well between the folk laden black metal of Drudkh and the ferocious frosty black metal of Hate Forest.
The music box intro and outro is kinda awkward and unnecessary and I don’t see how it aesthetically works with the rest of the album. “Stargazer”, with its heart racing melodic riff opening would have a been a perfect opener to the album anyway. The way one song transitions into the other is absolutely gorgeous, and while you might think an album that has high pace throughout would at some point get monotonous, but would be wrong.
Any creation this particular set of Ukrainians are involved in is bound to not disappoint. ‘The Onlooker’ an intermediate shade of colour on the canvas of the members involved. Intermediate it may be because of when it is being placed rather than where, but it is almost as essential as the rest of the projects to paint the larger picture.