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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.

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