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Perfect - 100%

Ecliptik, June 23rd, 2008

I discovered a trend in power metal a long time ago that I used to think applied to every power metal band: with every album, there will be 90% decent songs and 10% truly remarkable songs. With this trend in mind, I heard the first track of Winterheart’s Guild and immediately thought “Yep, there was the memorable track, now here comes the filler.” Had someone told me after that that the best was yet to come, I’d have been seriously skeptical.

So, what exactly is so great about it? First and foremost: it has atmosphere. It seems Tony Kakko wanted to mix things up a bit and, instead of having the keyboards harmonize with the guitars, as in “Ecliptica”, he has the keyboards set the ambience all-together. In fact, with nearly every memorable piece of the album, you can find the keyboards doing something incredible (i.e. Champagne Bath, Silver Tongue).

And the songwriting. This is what songwriting should sound like. Clean, audible production gives every aspect of Winterheart’s Guild worth hearing a chance to shine. Every single song hits its mark. That’s right, no forgettable or throw-away tracks here. From the mid-tempo melancholic “Broken”, to the catchy harmonic opener “Abandoned, Pleased, Brainwashed, Exploited”, there is absolutely nothing to complain about or pick out. Tommy Portimo’s drumming is unsullied, never out of place or unnecessarily fast or slow. Marko’s bass is clean and sharp, and Jani continues to impress with his blissfully melodic guitar work. Its crowing achievement, I must save for last, lies in Tony Kakko’s wonderfully shameless lyrics. He does a truly remarkable job in conveying feelings of love and freedom (The Misery, The Cage), without being embarrassing or cheesy, something no other power metal act I’ve come across can claim.

I believe an album must EARN a perfect score, and Winterheart’s Guild has earned it, and more. This album left me speechless. This is an absolute, without a trace of doubt, MUST HAVE.