without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
Winds of Change is an album I never expected to hold up on repeated listens in any capacity. Yet somehow, every time I dust this one off (or stream it; physical copies are nigh-impossible to procure) - it retains just enough perceived throwback freshness to wiggle its way cleanly in and out of my ear canals. The otherwise-stock title of the album certainly holds a deeper meaning both then and now, but while it would have been interesting to see a continuation of this style as opposed to the baseless aggro cum-groove/industrial pandering of Zero Tolerance, this particular denomination of hockey arena-caliber, watered down heavy/speed metal was already beginning to wear thin during the time of its release. As such, it remains a definite snapshot and time capsule that is bolstered by Mantas' compositional malleability and the fact that there isn't a whole lot of pretense or thought put into the damn thing on the whole.
So first off, the lyrics are irrefutably the worst part of Winds of Change. Teen dream '80s schlock of the lowest possible merit delivered by Harrison's capable, but safe vocal chops means that many eyes will be rolled well before the halfway point of the record is cleared. The procession of the record does make some sense however, and whether or not this was a conscious decision to help buoy the filler numbers escapes me. At any rate, there are three instrumentals that are generally tense exercises in controlled shredding strengthened by the typically warm and forgiving reverb of the period. The album sags a fair bit in the middle, but manages to maintain just enough of the listener's attention as it holds out for the final salvo that is "Nowhere to Run." This is easily the highlight and revolves around an endearingly catchy keyboard motif and the strongest chorus here. I listen to the lyrics of this one, and it sounds like it would have made a great entry on a soundtrack to a Friday the 13th or Nightmare on Elm Street, sort of like Dokken's "Dream Warriors." A great sendoff for Harrison that segues nicely into the closing instrumental.
"Western Days" is pretty cohesive speed metal in the vein of Digger's Stronger Than Ever. In fact, that is the closest parallel I can honestly draw to much of this, the only difference being that Harrison's half-baked Halford lampooning fits this style of music far better than Chris Boltendahl's gruff barking. The synths are unbelievably garish and sonically blinding like a spotlight. Mantas jumps to the keys in a style reminiscent of Europe or Van Halen circa 1984, so if you have a soft sport for that style (as I certainly do) then Winds of Change might just be up your alley. The melodic element is rather consistent and pretty strong throughout, but the cheese factor comes from the lyrics and synth pads chosen more than the note progressions themselves. It also helps that there are no plodding, schmaltzy ballads to navigate either. This is a pretty upbeat record from cover to cover, and while Savage's double bass gets a little exhausting on the longplay, it doesn't fall into the expected pitfalls like one may expect going in.
So "Deceiver" was chosen as the single and obligatory music video representation, but "Let It Rock" or "Nowhere to Run" would have been far better choices. Since the video consists of more footage of the band members taking the piss than actually playing their instruments, you could have probably spliced the footage atop any one of these songs and made it passable. Anyway, "Let It Rock" features one of the better solo sections augmented by a stellar harmonized lead, and I have already touched on what makes "Nowhere to Run" so strong. The vocals and overall tone lands Winds of Change closer to Dokken territory, but I definitely find this a record stronger than many of its peers during the late '80s and quite a successful little experiment that yielded some sticky tunes. Not brilliant by any measure, but could have been far, far worse.
Well, it sure doesn't sound much like Venom. Loud keyboards, clean guitars, and nearly operative vocals? And where is the Satan?
No worries, we've just a different side of Mantas here. Knowing that he' s a big Judas Priest fan, it's no surprise that the majority of the tracks on here are quite driving. This could be a more commercial version of Defenders of the Faith, with very over blown, cheesy as hell keyobards. But goddamn, this is a fun album! It sounds totally dated, straight out of the eighties. Epic, 80's cheese in the best way possible!
I just love the melodic touches that Mantas only hinted at in certain Venom songs. He really is quite the consummate lead guitarist. He even pulls out the acoustic for a few moments.
Not surprising, when Mantas rejoined Venom for their most refined effort "Prime Evil," he brougth with himself a new professionalism and composed lead work. If you love anything that the men in Venom have done, then this is a mandatory listen, even if it is far from what you'd expect from Mantas.
Being the huge Venom fan that I am, I had to buy guitarist Mantas's first solo album. Like any unsuspecting Venom fan, I was expecting something that sounded like...well...Venom, or at least Venomish. To my surprise, Winds of Change sounds NOTHING like Venom. It is melodic and keyboard filled. The keyboards are dramatically overblown and the some of the lyrics are damn right hokey.
Though I just dissed the album, some how I liked it. I liked the extremely dated overblown keyboards and I liked hokey lyrics. Call me crazy, but I can't explain it. I like the album yet it makes be bust out with laughter at the same time.
I read in an interview that Mantas took this approach because he wanted to prove he could play Melodic metal and prove he was a good guitar player. I have to agree that the album does showcase his talent to play melodically, but somehow I doubt most people will care
Well Venom fans like this? Unless they are are fucked up fans like me that somehow like anything the members pump out, I highly doubt it. This album owes more to Dokken than black metal Gods Venom.
This album makes a great conversation piece on any Venom fans shelf
It should also be noted that Mantas released another solo album in 2004. Though it is again released under the group name Mantas, it sounds TOTALLY Different than Winds of Change. People looking for hardcore metal are better off looking there instead....