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Winds: Prominence And Demise

If Arcturus, Ulver, Green Carnation, Kayo Dot, or Subterranean Masquerade float your musical boat, thehn Winds just may become your new favorite Nordic metal band.

There isn't as much in-your-face innovation as we heard with The Imaginary Direction Of Time, but there are plenty of imaginative art-rock cues in what is essentially a classically-oriented, progressive, dark-metal album with very strong songwriting.

A few seconds of Andy Winters's pretty classically-oriented piano work are quickly brushed aside by strong neo classical metal, then enter the so-so male vocals. Lars Si's singing is tentative, and probably quite good in isolation, but you might find their mid range lightweight timbre are an uncomfortable fit here. They get interesting in places - like "The Grand Design" and "Fall And Rise" among other places where they take an emotionally charged run into the higher registers. And listen to "Where The Cold Winds Blow" - he's very effective when he slips into a soft falsetto. The pretty female choruses are particularly pleasing.

Parts of Prominence and Demise will have you wondering if this is actually symphonic progressive music. Yet other parts are dominated by double-bass, crunchy riffs and blinding speed guitar that leave no doubt that this is metal. Yet the strongest component of Prominence and Demise is Winters's piano work.It's elegant, disciplined, wonderfully executed, and that pure classical tone builds diverse textures that invite you to spin the record again and again. Winds ought to use that sound more often. And Carl Tidemann's guitarwork is excellent as usual - running from blinding but always melodic solos to elegant acoustic guitar, and binding the piece together with strong riffs.

Winds has been around for 10 years - but Scandinavia's dark avant metal practitioners are about as mobile as England's neo-proggers. The artists' credentials will have you thinking that there's no more than 2 degrees of separation among any artist / band combination in the genre. The band members come from acts line Arcturus, Age Of Silence, Tritonus, Sculptured, Subterranean Masquerade, and Dimmu Borghir. There were also several highly respected guest artists - representing acts like Madder Mortem, Borknagar, Edge Of Sanity, Nightingale, Bloodbath, Solefald, and Ulver ... and if that isn't enough, there are contributions from musicians attached to the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra. And capping the whole package is Travis Smith's unmistakable hand on the eerie cover art.

Not that it ought to matter, but there are very few death metal vocals in here, and those are courtesy of the excellent Dan Swano. Yet you can't help thinking that more powerful - or maybe just more melodic - singing would raise the record's appeal that extra notch. As it stands, though, it's a definite contender for a top-10-of-2007 slot.

Track Listing:
1. Universal Creation Array
2. Distorted Dimensions
3. The Grand Design
4. When the Dream of Paradise Died
5. Fall and Rise
6. The Darkest Path
7. Convictions and Contradictions
8. Where the Cold Winds Blow
9. The Last Line

Added: August 4th 2007
Reviewer: Duncan Glenday
Related Link: The Band's Website
Hits: 4823
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Winds: Prominence And Demise
Posted by Pete Pardo, SoT Staff Writer on 2007-08-05 09:55:58
My Score:

In the mood for some fantastic Norwegian progressive metal? Yes, I said that right, PROGRESSIVE METAL. Bet you expected anything Norwegian to be black metal right? Well, in most cases that might be the case, and if you look at the members of Winds, drummer Hellhammer (Mayhem, Dimmu Borgir, Arcturus), vocalist Lars E. Si (Age of Silence), guitarist Carl August Tidemann (Tritonus, Arcturus), and keyboardist Andy Winter (Age of Silence, Sculptured, Subterranean Masquerade), you'll see there's plenty of black metal and avant-garde metal pedigree here. Prominence And Demise is at times a stunning affair, littered with intricate instrumental passages, majestic, even highly symphonic keyboard flourishes, and plenty of bombast. Despite the highly progressive nature of this recording, it is at it's core a metal album, something that guitarist Tidemann never let's you forget with his super crunchy riffing and blazing, virtuoso solos. Of course, with the presence of the mad octopus Hellhammer on drums, you can expect plenty of acrobatic and insane drum work. There's a host of guest stars here, like Dan Swano (Edge of Sanity, Nightingale), who adds some death growls to "The Grand Design", as well as Madder Mortem's Agnete M. Kirkevaag, Borknagar & Solefald member Lars Nedland, and Ulver's Oystein Moe. Along with musicians from the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, these guest stars help flesh out Prominence And Demise and turn it into one of this years more enjoyable prog-metal releases. Fans of Dream Theater, Kansas, and Symphony X will love the heavy yet highly accessible and symphonic nature of songs like "Where the Cold Winds Blow", "Universal Creation Array", and "The Last Line". This is classy stuff all around, but don't be worried about any similarities to extreme metal-other than some brief growls from Swano in the already mentioned "The Grand Design", this is very sophisiticated music, enhanced by some lovely acoustic guitar, keyboards, and orchestra, that all work well with the complex metal arrangements. Singer Lars has a very expressive voice, whether he's singing in a mid or upper range, and I think a lot of fans will be quite moved by his performance here.

In other words, this is highly recommended stuff that warrants your immediate attention.

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