By Jonathan Smith
“The Seafaerers’ Legend,” the last track on the first full-length offering from New Jersey-based Windfaerer, feels the most like an example of the folk metal that the music is often described as being. In getting to that point, however, the album demonstrates itself to be a culmination of many elements, a compelling blend of black, death, and thrash metal. Still familiar enough to entice fans of multiple sub-genres, Tribus is a heavy-hitting and nuanced collection of songs that storms its way into your ear canals, pitches a tent, and then demands that you listen again. It is a commanding debut.
Though the last track and opener “These Walls (Frozen In Time)” bookend the album in a very Scandinavian folk metal fashion, it soon becomes clear that there are more eclectic influences at work here as well. The lyrical topics introduced by M. Goncalves (practically a one-man band, taking care of vocals, guitars, and bass) stem mostly from a different source of inspiration, centering around the history and stories of the Iberian (Spanish) Pennisula. Musically, “A Gentle Touch Upon Ravaged Wounds” throws in some stand-out, very thrashy riffs, and “This Beautiful Death” features enough melody and emotional angst to almost sound like something from a NWAHM band like Killswitch Engage. The last lingering notes of “Oestriminis” are haunting, reinforcing the layers that exist beneath the instrumental carnage perpetrated by Goncalves and propelled along by drummer JP Andrade.
The end result is a satisfying combination of sub-genre styles, and all eight songs are densely packed enough as to warrant repeated listens. There’s hardly any filler to be found here, not even a short, throwaway instrumental track. Tribus was one of the latter great albums of 2010, one that I’m sorry to have missed until well into 2011.