Niels Vejlyt is unapologetic. He created Sage's Recital to produce the most outrageous and extravagant neo-classical symphonic heavy metal. With his second album, The Winter Symphony, Vejlyt has once more accomplished his goal. In this sense, the album deserves the top score. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
First, and fundamentally, Sage's Recital is merely a platform for Vejlyt's neo-classical shredding and widdling up and down his fret board. Which is fine, if you like that style, and I'm not saying I don't. But basically, with the first song, and two minutes in, you know what you're going to get for the entire album. Without doubt Vejlyt is a master of shred guitar. But you have to ask yourself, how many diminished seventh arpeggios and pentatonic scales are you willing to muddle through in forty some minutes. It's like getting out Yngwie Malmsteen's Rising Force and putting one song on repeat. Would you notice any difference? Perhaps not.
Maybe that's where the problem lies, and it's not just with Vejlyt. All these similar guitarists do this. Alternatively, Vejlyt tries his best to mix things up. For instance, both Shooting Star and Kings Of Old have a near progressive metal vibe going in a more challenging arrangement. One thing, I felt sorry for the vocalist trying to follow the arrangement of Shooting Star. He sounds like he's really struggling. Queen Of Winter is the one song here that totally dials back the neo-classical guitar twiddling to near non-existence. The song is essentially a symphonic ballad. But the epic song here is the title cut where Vejlyt pours his neo-classical guitar wizardry into a blend of heavy, power, and symphonic metal wrapped in a more intricate arrangement. But again, the vocalist seems to have a hard time keeping up with the arrangement.
So Vejlyt has accomplished his goal, again. As I said earlier, if you like his neo-classical guitar style, this album is definitely for you. But my take was this, The Winter Symphony or any Sage's Recital album, past or future, is mostly for the (neo-classical) guitar enthusiast, not so much for average heavy metal listener. It's not all that accessible.
The Winter Symphony or any Sage's Recital album, past or future, is mostly for the (neo-classical) guitar enthusiast, not so much for average heavy metal listener.
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