Review: Welkins Boreal – Ashes

Welkins Boreal is a one-man gothic metal band hailing from Helsinki, Finland featuring Teemu Kautonen who is responsible for the vocals, guitar, bass and keyboards. For now Teemu makes use of session musicians to complete his line-up. The drums on the current release are taken care of by session drummer Toni Paananen and Aki Koponen is responsible for guitar, backing vocals. Though Welkins Boreal was only formed in 2019, its history dates way back, all the way to the mid 1990s. Back then founder Teemu was active in a whole host of bands, one of which, Nattvindens Gråt, is seen as the predecessor of Welkins Boreal. Nattvindens Gråt released two full-lengths and a demo before, after a change of line-up, ending their active career with one more full-length. For many years after that Teemu was not active in any musical projects until two years ago, when he felt it was time to realize his dream of remaking some of Nattvindens Gråt’s work. This resulted in the release of Phantoms of Yesteryear, which contained nine remastered and remade songs taken from two Nattvindens Gråt’s releases. Now Teemu is ready to release some brand new work, his first since early this century, in the form of a three-song EP called Ashes.

It opens with Are You a Witch?, which is a nice song with a strong old school vibe to it, not in the least due to the production that feels rather uncomplicated and a little flat. A deliberate action, as Teemu has chosen to do a completely analogue production with no computer editing whatsoever. A nice touch that most definitely adds to the atmosphere of this, as things don’t sound as clinical as seems to be the common denominator nowadays. It has a few nice riffs and the loosely added double vocals give it a nice vibe, but the keys are dominating the rhythm here. The successor, Triumph of Steel, that starts much more like the gothic metal Welkins Boreal supposedly plays, with its plain intro complete with a rather atmospheric, somber sounding vocal line which is backed by a Gregorian choir at times. As it progresses more and more elements are added, which all add more depth to the song with the slow guitar solo as its pinnacle. The show ends with the title song, which starts with a sweet riff, backed by a nice rhythm section. Overall this is the heaviest of the trio of songs, but don’t expect a wall of sound, that simply is not Welkins Boreal’s way.

Although three songs hardly are a solid base to draw conclusions from, I think it’s safe to say Teemu hasn’t lost his writing abilities yet. The songs are solidly composed with enough variety and sparkle to keep them interesting and the analogue, old school production adds to this in my opinion, although not everyone will agree with me on this. Considering the lengthy absence from Teemu in the music scene I tend to think this EP serves as a test to see where his priorities lie style-wise. The overall preferred musical path is definitely gothic metal, but certainly not in its purest form, so I for one am interested to see what this band will develop into in the future. Whether this will be to your liking I of course cannot predict, but I tend to say ‘yes’. I guess there’s only one way to find out. It certainly was worth my time.

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