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Pint-Sized Heroism - 56%

GuntherTheUndying, November 5th, 2012

I‘m not finding Wind Rose worthy of the buzz they‘ve accumulated, I'm afraid. "Shadows Over Lothadruin" is the first full-length album released by these Italians preaching the gospel of progressive power metal, reminding me of some union between Symphony X and Dream Theater with a bunch of fantasy crap on the side. The musical elements of "Shadows Over Lothadruin" appear very safe and expected for something aligning itself with progressive power metal, and the only thing truly separating Wind Rose from their counterparts that actually deserves a spotlight is their tendency to give each song a separate identity. Unfortunately, the songwriting factor cannot match the group's bold ambition, which only takes them a few strides outside of Lothadruin before they get cold feet and decide tomorrow will work better for adventure.

This is apparently a concept album. About what, I have no idea. There are brief transitions that feature narration: one goes on about a guy who wins a tournament, or something. Then a town burns down, or something. Then something else happens about going somewhere, or something. I'm not sure why there are so many transition pieces—seven in total—when each is completely futile in providing a sense of cohesion or even explaining just what in the hell hides behind the lyrical journey of "Shadows of Lothadruin." In fact, the interludes are counter-intuitive if anything, because they blatantly derail the epic atmosphere produced by the actual songs. They are, of course, only an authentic slither of the album's monolithic running time of sixty-five minutes, which likewise manages to largely paint a vapid representation of progressive power metal.

The downing colors of "Shadows of Lothadruin" shouldn't be pinned on the musicians; each member performs adequately, especially the charismatically electric voice of Francesco Cavalieri. The music itself transmits a reflection of a reflection of a reflection of acceptable progressive power metal, like Symphony X on inhalants. "Endless Prophecy," "Son of a Thousand Nights" and the horribly tedious "Majesty" run through the motions and produce nothing but tired choruses and entry-level music that any group of this niche could forge with little effort. They try to shuffle the pace—quite ambitious, really—throughout each song, and it sometimes works; the anvil-heavy riffs on "The Fourth Vanguard" work as a fantastic changeup from the progressive-based structures. The folk touches throughout "Siderion" overshadow its ordinary guitar work and the song itself shines brighter than most, yet stuff like the ten minutes of REM-inducing banality on "Close to the End" are sadly more dominant.

In essence, "Shadows of Lothadruin" listens like an inexperienced band trying to stomach a huge piece of glory that was too big to bite off, and like Andre Nosik and the Holy Stromboli, actions as such often have dire consequences. That is not to imply Wind Rose is totally devoid of talent or creativity; as mentioned, a sizable portion of the album feels smooth and rewarding. However, the inflated nature of "Shadows Over Lothadruin" offers little once the excessive coats of shine and glaze are peeled back, and I feel like the meat and potatoes aren't up to an acceptable standard set forth by the leaders of this zealous blueprint. Potential comes in many universal forms; it might even come in a package shaped like a rose, we'll just have to see.

This review was written for:

Great first full length! - 75%

Immortally_Insane, September 24th, 2012

Italian power metal band Wind Rose hasn’t been around in the metal world for too long, releasing their first demo in 2010, appropriately named “Demo 2010”. Interestingly enough, these guys began their metal career as a power metal cover band, covering the likes of Blind Guardian and Dream Theater playing tons of shows and getting their name out. Forming in 2004, it wasn’t until 2009 that they actually started recording original material. Their first full length album “Shadows Over Lothadruin” released in August of this year, is a promising beginning to their future in the metal world.

Power metal without restrictions seems to be what this band is all about, and they’ve come up with a relatively creative way to tell a story through their latest album. Between some of the tracks, there is a short sound clip, and most are narratives or sound effects of the story. It’s an interesting idea, and reminiscent of the theatrics of Rhapsody of Fire, however I feel like they hinder the album more than help. They don’t get the story across to me any easier than the music does, because truthfully the music is very enjoyable on its own. The sound clips lose the epic feeling of the album for me, snapping me out of the power metal world and into a seemingly awkward “Wait…what?” moment.

That being said, the musicianship and song writing on the album is spot on for a power metal band boasting a progressive twist. Cheers to all of the musicians in this band! They clearly have learned from their days of covering power metal bands. The elements are all there for great metal music. The guitar has a great tone throughout the entire album, nice and deep and rounded, so it balances really well with the keyboards. The keyboards aren’t eccentric or frilly; they’re perfectly utilized for atmosphere. The bass is very well mixed in and helps really drive the songs home, and the drums are typical for this genre with a nice gallop. The vocals can really hit the nail on the head throughout the album, but sometimes I feel like they’re a slight miss. For a young man, this is expected, given that his voice isn’t as honed as the greats of the genre who have been doing this for 20+ years.

“Son of a Thousand Nights” is one example of beautiful vocal work. It’s a slower song, with stunning musicianship, complete with impressive vocal layering and effects. In this song, Francesco sticks to a lower range in his voice for the majority of the song, with great moments of crescendos into his higher range. All around, a fantastic song, and I would love to hear the band write more music like this. Going into their heavier tracks like “The Fourth Vanguard” and “Oath to Betray” I feel the vocals lose track a little bit. I would say they almost feel too forced and very intense. It may just lie in the mixing quality, but at moments in the verse lines especially, the vocals are too harsh for the music.

The album closer, an epic ten minute and forty second long track “Close to the End” certainly is a powerful way to leave your followers wanting more. It’s a perfect example of all of the styles the band is capable of creating, and creating well. It’s a very progressive sounding metal track, well written and striking, my personal favorite on the album. There are even some folk metal elements worked in and a flat out awesome guitar solo. These guys have definitely succeeded at taking the power metal genre and warping it into a new sound that flat out works for the band. I am quite excited to watch this band grow and develop their style even more because there is a lot of promise of something undeniably great in their future.

[Originally written for]

Neoclassical Symphonic Italian Power Metal - 80%

TheStormIRide, August 31st, 2012

Italy has a long standing tradition of producing its own certain brand of power metal that is more distinguishable than that of any other country. Wind Rose continues this tradition with an album inspired by the symphonic, neoclassical tendencies of Rhapsody of Fire, Kaledon, Thy Majestie and others. Their debut album, “Shadows Over Lothadruin”, shows the band heading straight for the styles of the aforementioned bands, while still managing to sound somewhat original by incorporating outside influences.

The base of Wind Rose's music is neoclassical power metal in the vein of Yngwie Malmsteen, and all of his clones, mixed with the symphonic touches of Rhapsody and the like. A wall of orchestration is layered behind the music and does not let up until the album is over. “Shadows Over Lothadruin” has all of the elements fans of this genre want, but Wind Rose has a tendency to go over the top with the cheese factor.

The songs range from AOR-esque ballads to blazing, riff heavy power metal. The faster songs show the guitars with a crunchy tone and some stellar riff work, including sweeping arpeggios that sound straight out of Luca Turilli's song book. Some groove elements are thrown in with Nevermore-ish technical chugging during breaks and behind solos. The solos themselves are amazing, following the Malmsteen school of neoclassical shredding, without taking away from the grandiose feel of the orchestrations and symphonic elements. The drums plod along, ranging from double bass running during fast sections to a laid back, hard rock style on the slower sections. There are some interesting rolls and fills, but the drumming doesn't stand out enough to need further detail.

The orchestration sounds very similar to the backing of Rhapsody and Thy Majestie, with constant keyboard accompaniment. The slower sections show some classical piano work, with lush string inspired orchestrations still in the background. The faster sections see a few Warmen or Stratovarius styled keyboard verses guitar solo sections, sounding a little out of place and futuristic beside the medieval inspired theme and orchestration.

While, Wind Rose doesn't go over the top with cinematic, movie score sounding sections, they do have the Rhapsody styled interludes and cringe induced narrative sections. Anyone familiar with the Sir Jay Lansford era of narration on Rhapsody should not be surprised here, but if you're not then imagine the most socially awkward person you've ever met and then ask them to perform a monologue in front of a crowd: that's pretty much the feeling that the interludes give. Although they help to keep the “medieval” theme going, they are extremely cringe worthy. Main example, everyone sounds straight out of medieval England until the protagonist says “Thanks me lord” like a freaking third grader.

Wind Rose incorporates some folk elements into their repertoire as well. There are a few flute lines that sound very Jethro Tull inspired with their poppy gait. The flute sections come across as extremely cheesy and out of place. It's nice to hear something different, but it seems like the band just said, “Hey, let's throw some flute in!” and then randomly placed sections on a few songs. Fortunately the excellent guitar work mirrors most of the flute lines and keeps everything tied into the realm of heavier things.

Vocally, Wind Rose falls somewhere between Goran Edmond era Malmsteen, At Vance and Fabio Lione of Rhapsody. The vocals are mostly in the mid to high range and the singer manages to stay away from the goofy accents that plague a lot other Italian power metal acts. This isn't the strongest vocal performance of the year, but the singer is capable of performing with no major, notable flaws.

The production is utterly fantastic, as every instrument is crisp and clear. The guitars retain a dynamic punch during heavier sections and during the slower sections every note rings clear. Every other instrument has its proper place in the mix, including vocals. The flute is a little high in the mix when it comes in, but, thankfully, its only sporadically placed in the album. Former bass player, Cristiano Bertocchi (Vision Divine, Labyrinth), produced “Shadows Over Lothadruin” and did one hell of a job.

Wind Rose have created a listenable symphonic, neoclassical power metal album that fans of Italian power metal will love. Production values, musicianship and song writing make this an enjoyable listen. “Shadows Over Lothadruin” doesn't bring anything new to the field, but shows Wind Rose will be a force to be reckoned with in the future. Recommended to fans of neoclassical metal and symphonic power metal, as long as you don't mind a cup of cheese on the side.

Written for The Metal Observer: