As you may have gathered over time, we like a bit of power metal here at Sound the Charge. Therefore it’s always nice when a band suddenly appears on our radar that we weren’t aware of before. The band in question is Wind Rose, a power/prog metal band from Italy. Their second studio album, Wardens of the West Wind, is out now so we decided to take the plunge and give it a review.
The ever popular atmospheric opener is present which I always take as a good sign because you know within a minute or two you’re about to be assaulted by a truck load of riffs. There are times you’re sold on an album within thirty seconds or so of the first proper song, this is one of those times. The intro track leads into Age of Conquest which manages to deliver a heap of power metal within those first thirty seconds, the group vocals, the high vocals, the pounding drums, the keys and speedy riffs, it’s all there.
Then it takes an interesting turn, a turn which helps separate Wind Rose from the other power metal bands out there. Instead of charging down the galloping guitar riffs in a major key route, they adopt chugging, stabbing staccato riffs. This “chugga chugga” approach was especially useful for when they actually did use a galloping riff, it gives the gallop all the more emphasis.
The listener will notice the vocals early on; it’s always a relief to hear good vocals in power metal. Often a singer may overreach themselves, but Cavalieri is more than comfortable in his range and finds little trouble slipping between powerful, meaty passages and gentle moments.
I’m always a fan of multi-layered vocals, and though I got an ample amount from the latest Blind Guardian release, there is a pleasing amount of layered verses and choruses here. Needless to say, when you layer the vocals, the choruses become huge.
Previously I mentioned the guitar riffs setting the band apart from the herd. The sheer number of influences within the music also helps to set the band apart, instead of sticking to one sound through the album they draw in different tones and cultures. For instance, Born in the Cradle of Storms has a slight Eastern influence running through it, while Rebel and Free has a Scottish element (therefore making it the best song on the album), Ode to the West Wind has a mystical vibe complete with deep voiced narrator (and a moment that reminds me of Thriller for no particular reason). Sometimes the influences are toned down, other times they in the open such as Skull and Crossbones.
Skull and Crossbones starts with a Pirates of the Caribbean melody on the keys. You’re thinking piracy in seconds before you even see the song title. With pirates being so popular in music today you’ll no doubt be questioning if it’s Alestorm piracy or Running Wild piracy (because that’s the type of grown up questions we ask here). It’s closer to the Running Wild vein of pirate metal so no silliness here. I sort of wish the Hans Zimmer style orchestration from the start was present during the full song though.
If there’s one thing I would like for Wind Rose, it would be a bigger budget for orchestration style effects, there are times where it almost sounds like an old video game, while at other times sounds rich and full. On the other hand, the old video game style music actually fits the style of music; it would just be interesting to hear what they could achieve with a large orchestra and choir at their backs.
Recommending this album is easy. If you like power metal you’ll like this, if you like Blind Guardian you’ll like this. There are slight touches of bands like Turisas hidden in the music as well (the shouted passages in Rebel and Free and The Breed of Durin for example). There are even elements of Bal-Sagoth in the music, though far far more sensible. Basically if you like any of the above, you’ll like Wind Rose.
As I said at the start, this is the bands second full length album. If you’re capable of composing songs like these on album two, imagine what they can do down the road with a bigger budget and more experience. They may not become the biggest band in power metal, but there’s something special in Wind Rose’s future and I’m looking forward to it coming out.
Wardens of the West is out now via Scarlet Records, find the band on Facebook for more.