Norwegian band Winds's new CD is progressive metal with a difference – in fact, the "metal" label doesn't always sit comfortably here. And it is certainly not prog-metal in the accepted Dream Theater mold – this is probably closer to Opeth than to Dream Theater. The overriding mood is dark, bordering on the sonics of the better doom metal acts and borrowing more than a few chord progressions from that genre. But it isn't doom metal either, and unlike Opeth, there isn't a grunt to be heard.
Imagine melodic but subdued progressive metal, with plenty of acoustic sections. The music is subtle and reasonably technical, but never in the imposing and insistent manner of most modern prog-metal acts. Now add a string section comprising 2 violins, a viola and a cello, which is present in most passages, and with the viola carrying most of the mid-range minor-key melodics. Add several piano pieces – also played in the mid-ranges – with a very classical bent. Now mix in the vocals. It's all sung clean in mid-ranges, held back in the mix, and a little atonal, in the haunting doom-metal style. Although it is not as morbid as the Tiamat / Katatonia / My Dying Bride sound, the band has said that the music on The Imaginary Direction Of Time, their 3rd album, is their darkest yet most elegant to date. And then – just to remind you that this is rock after all – there are some blistering guitar solos and some pure metal passages.
This music never stands still – it is constantly shifting from metal to classical, from acoustic to the full metal set, from moody to sunny and uplifting. Although no song runs longer than five-and-a-bit minutes there are enough recurring themes and revisited lyrical elements to pull the album together into a consolidated body of work.
It is interesting to note that keyboard player and songwriter Andy Winter has a deep background in piano, which helps explain the album's classical orientation. Winter also contributed to the highly acclaimed Subterranean Masquerade: Temporary Psychotic State EP.
This record's title will appeal to sci-fi fans, or to those familiar with the quantum physics on which most modern sci-fi is based; and the lyrics are deep and exploring. Artwork was provided by Californian Travis Smith, who is quickly becoming one of metal's most successful cover painters.
So it's not quite progressive doom, nor is it progressive rock, and it's sorta-kinda progressive metal. But whatever the genre – and perhaps there isn't a label that really fits here – you owe it to yourself to give this album a spin. Listen to the sound samples, and don't be put off by the dark, brooding sound. This is an album that can be played again and again and you'll hear something new with each listen.
- What is Beauty (05:03)
- Sounds Like Desolation (00:35)
- Theory of Relativity (04:48)
- Visions of Perfection (05:19)
- The Fireworks of Genesis (04:17)
- Under the Stars (05:40)
- A Moment for Reflection (05:58)
- Time Without End (04:10)
- The Final End (01:10)
- Beyond Fate (02:53)
- Silence in Despair (04:56)
- Infinity (03:17)