Winterthrall: Reigning Over the Local Metal Underground
Photo courtesy o Winterthrall

Winterthrall: Reigning Over the Local Metal Underground

Buried deep in the layers of the Orange County music scene is a tight knit underground extreme metal subculture. The community thrives on a cult following and a DIY approach to everything, from touring to recording and releasing music. Winterthrall are veterans of the scene.

Together now for just over a decade, the band's doom ridden approach to death metal includes hints of black metal, melodic thrash music and classical style guitar. Their sound will please (and by please we mean destroy the eardrums of) fans of Dismember, Bolt Thrower, Grave, Entombed, and Dissection.

Founding member Steve Nelson says Winterthrall is stoked to call the local metal subculture home, as the O.C. has also been home to scene heroes of his including Dystopia, Phobia, Mindrot, Morgion and Carcinogen, "to name a small few."

Winterthrall's current lineup includes contains Nelson on vocals and guitar, Rob Alaniz on drums, Josh Standifer on guitar and Janis Tanaka on bass. Due to a series of lineup changes in the band's early years, Winterthrall has not toured extensively, but does play West Coast shows throughout the year. Nelson and Alaniz manage to keep Winterthrall alive while also being active in several other underground metal bands including Destroy Judas, Semtex Vest, Evildead and Noctuary.

Winterthrall's music is largely inspired by the macabre aspects of life and death. Subjects include suicide, the afterlife, the struggle of living and the futility of being brainwashed through religion or politics. A forthcoming LP is about, Nelson says, "abandoning faith as a crutch and making yourself the master of your own being and life.

The band's last album, the debut LP Nightmares For The Sleepless, was released in 2006. While the release of the followup has been delayed due to various life events and tragedies, it is, says Nelson now back on track. Nelson says this album is an amalgamation of previous releases, and "a return to faster material while incorporating the heavier doom aspects of our last release."

While Nelson is open to working with a label that wouldn't try to change the sound of his band, he is mostly keen is staying in the DIY scene for the foreseeable future. "We've been content to self release our music," he says, 'because it's easier to do these days."

Winterthrall has a couple of local shows over the next couple months. Tonight, they play at 5 Stars Bar in downtown L.A. More info here.

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