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Winds - Prominence And Demise (8,5/10) - Norway - 2007

Genre: Progressive Metal / Neo-Classical
Label: The End Records
Playing time: 55:19
Band homepage: Winds

Tracklist:

  1. Universal Creation Array
  2. Distorted Dimensions
  3. The Grand Design
  4. When The Dreams Of Paradise Died
  5. Fall And Rise
  6. The Darkest Path
  7. Convictions And Contradictions
  8. When The Cold Winds Blow
  9. The Last In Line
Winds - Prominence And Demise

Sometimes you get what you want and then wonder if you really wanted it at all. In 2004, I thought WINDS’ second full-length, “The Imaginary Direction Of Time,” while excellent, should have strayed further from its predecessor, “Reflections Of The I.”  So my first reaction on listening to “Prominence And Demise,” hypocritically enough, was “Oh no! This doesn’t sound like the WINDS I’m used to!”

 

That’s true: compared to the previous albums, “Prominence And Demise” is all different yet somehow the same.

 

With their previous two albums (and EP), Norway’s WINDS had proven that they were at the top of the game in the Neoclassical field, playing an extremely class, articulate style that defied comfortable categorization. In any review of their albums, the members must be identified; superlative and idiosyncratic guitarist Carl August Tidemann (ex-ARCTURUS), refined pianist Andy Winter (AGE OF SILENCE), infinitely robust drummer Hellhammer (MAYHEM, et a.), and the underrated vocalist/bassist Lars Eric Si (KHOLD). Of course, I would be remiss not to mention the string quartet that always supported them in a prominent manner.

 

With this new album, WINDS is more firmly putting their foot in the Progressive Metal camp. It’s their heaviest release; there are even a few Death growls sprinkled throughout the album, courtesy of Dan Swanö, as well as female vocals, though I could not find the singer’s name. Speaking of guest appearances, look out for Lars Nedland (BORKNAGAR, SOLEFALD), who seems to be everywhere these days in the world of Scandinavian Prog. In accordance with this more aggressive approach, the strings are toned down, but they’re certainly not gone—rather, one will find them in the background (the greatest exception being the intro to “The Last In Line”).

 

With this change in material, Lars Eric Si is forced into new vocal territory. There have been a lot of detractors of his performance on previous WINDS material, but I always felt it was powerful. With the new tempo and atmosphere of “Prominence And Demise,” however, he can’t always keep up. Previously, WINDS material played to his strengths, but this new style exposes some his weaknesses. It’s unfortunate and I wonder if that’s why we have a greatly increased (but by no means dominant) presence of guest vocalists.

 

Still, under everything you realize that the ideas are still the same. Without being formally educated in music theory, I can only make vague references to similar chord progressions, but as the album comes to you, it becomes evident they’re taking a different route to get to the same place. There’s no way I can properly explain it, it’s an epiphany. As happens occasionally, this album did not really open up until I sat down and started writing this review, concentrating on nothing but the music. I assume that if you’re a WINDS fan, you’re used to music that can take a little bit to open up. The only thing I can say is that it may take a little bit to get past the fact that WINDS has changed so much, but it’s still worth it. If you haven’t tried WINDS before, this is probably as good a place as any to start, but go in with the understanding that previous material does not sound much like this. And yet it does.

That may not make any sense, but I assure you, listen to this album and it will. I think WINDS would be disappointed if “Prominence And Demise” were an easy album.

(Online September 15, 2007)

Keith Stevens



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