Perhaps wanting to crash Blind Guardian's new release party, power metallers Wind Rose return with their sophomore release, Wardens of the West Wind. Much like their peers, this album is big and bombastic, massive and outrageous. But what else would expect from a power metal band from Italy, largely the reigning home to epic power metal.
And epic is like the operative and most descriptive word for this album. Another might be ambitious, as there's much going on within every song. In the midst of the large riffs and symphonic layer, Wind Rose tosses in bountiful amounts of guitar solos, more keyboards, and bold vocal arrangements. Francesco Cavalieri is quite the versatile vocals, going from clean to gruff, low to somewhat high, even within a single song. He's backed by the band's harmonious arrangements, sometimes in the traditional heavy metal gang format. Alternatively, with the first listen my thought was that the vocals were not versatile but uneven, as if Cavalieri couldn't decide how he wanted to sing from one song to the next. But no worries, it all works out in the end.
Mostly, the music is rather impressive. For all their bombastic power metal geekery, Wind Rose can craft some elaborate songs, with twists and turns that might conjure up something akin to progressive power metal. But that might be suggesting too much. Generally, across the album this is charging power metal, embellished by the aforementioned big riffs, symphonic notes, and vocal arrangements, with some moments of lightness and such. Skull and Crossbones, a thumping and charging number, has this light acoustic breakdown about two-thirds in. The Breed of Durin has two moments of highly orchestrated segue, one before and one after the the midpoint, with the rest of the song another crush of power metal. Age of Conquest does something similar but uses the vocal arrangement to give pause to the rushing power metal. Speaking to the Blind Guardian reference, perhaps unlike their latest album which can seem to run together, Wind Rose's arrangements give better definition to each song. That's not say that they can't sound repetitive at times; that's the ugly secret about the power metal genre. The listener merely needs to be more attentive.
Overall, then, Wardens of the West Wind finds Wind Rose at the top of their game. Call it outlandish and outrageous, but the band knows their symphonic power metal. If Blind Guardian wants to retire or take a lengthy hiatus, Wind Rose will be waiting to take the power metal thrown.
Wardens of the West Wind finds Wind Rose at the top of their game. Call it outlandish and outrageous, but the band knows their symphonic power metal.
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