When a band cites Dream Theater, Symphony X and Howard Shore as influences, you pretty much know what you’re going to get. Add to that suitably Tolkienesque cover art and a title like “Shadows Over Lothadruin” and there can be no doubt whatsoever; what is also true is that it all adds up to a very good album.
Italy’s Wind Rose combines prog, symphonic metal and various dramatic scaenarum into a single, very enjoyable musical experience. The Dream Theater/Symphony X influences mean it’s suitably heavy in delivery and epic in scope, the Howard Shore influences provide the symphonic element and the little dramatic vignettes imbue the whole thing with a narrative and a sense of fun. It’s rather like those scenes you get between the levels in a game, or the dialogue in a musical that bridges the story from song to song. They establish some more of the drama of the album – although in truth, the songs could carry that on their own – which is clearly the intention of the band.
Along with the dramatic narrative, Wind Rose delivers an album of heavy guitars, double kick drums, a bass that matches the guitars in its accomplishments (it’s not simply a bottom end for the chords), plenty of keyboard wizadry and soaring, operatic vocals. Each song is multi-part featuring various time and dynamic changes, atmospheric passages and layers of vocal harmonies. Given the relatively complex nature of song writing like this, it will probably take a few listens to really get your ears round everything, but it’s definitely worth the effort. Wind Rose is a band unafraid to throw everything at a song, whether it’s heavy riffs, folky passages, extended instrumental sections or effects-laden dramatic interludes.
‘The Endless Prophecy’ kicks off proceedings in suitably heavy, dramatic prog metal style using keyboards and bells to build the atmosphere, varying the pace from a Maiden-like gallop to mid-paced power ballad. ‘Siderion’ has a folky, jig feel to it as though its roots are somewhere in the medieval mists of time; until, that is, it becomes a kind of military chant. It even features some twin guitar harmonies (how could anyone not like this song?).
‘Son Of A Thousand Nights’ is more of a ballad with a big sweeping chorus, while ‘The Fourth Vanguard’ has a real heavy intro while still managing to feature a harpsichord/spinet and church organ. Its big chorus has definite shades of Symphony X. ‘Close To The End’ is the big finish, delivering 10 epic minutes of variation, drama and prog metal goodness. It’s a suitably appropriate way to round off the album.
All in all, Wind Rose has produced an accomplished, enjoyable album for anyone who likes their prog metal with a bit of pomp and a sense of drama: definitely worth a listen.