Released By: Napalm Records
Release Date: September 27th, 2019
Genre: Power/Folk Metal
Francesco Cavalieri – Vocals
Claudio Falconcini – Guitars
Cristiano Bertocchi – Bass
Federico Meranda – Keyboards
Federico Gatti – Drums
1. Of Iron and Gold
3. Drunken Dwarves
4. Diggy Diggy Hole (Yogscast Cover)
5. Mine Mine Mine!
6. The Art of War
7. There and Back Again
8. The King Under the Mountain
9. We Were Warriors
Two of my favorite releases over the past five years have been Wardens of the West Wind, an epic symphonic power metal album along the lines of Rhapsody of Fire, except somehow even catchier, more fun and all-around more enjoyable, and Stonehymn, a wildly entertaining power/folk metal release, with some symphonic arrangements. What do those two albums have in common? Well, both of them were made by Italian band Wind Rose, who showed promise with their progressive metal debut Shadows Over Lothadruin, before completely blowing the roof off with the two aforementioned albums. With the band impressing me so much on two consecutive albums, and largely doing so in different ways, I was excited to see what they would try next and whether their latest full-length release would live up to my expectations. Two years after the release of Stonehymn, the band has now unleashed their fourth album, Wintersaga, and unlike its two most recent predecessors, it feels less like evolution and more like a victory lap, but in a very enjoyable way.
Fans of Wind Rose, and especially those who enjoyed Stonehymn, should have a good idea of what to expect from Wintersaga, as it largely feels like a continuation of that album, while also having slightly more symphonic influence, to bring it a bit closer to Wardens of the West Wind, at times. I loved both of those albums, and so I greatly enjoy this release as well, but I can’t help but feel a bit disappointed that it doesn’t push the band’s sound further, in the way those two albums did. Instead, it feels like the band took everything that worked previously, and built on it, to create a varied, extremely fun and catchy album, with a ton of memorable moments, though a lot those moments do feel a bit familiar.
For new fans, each of the band’s first three albums was remarkably different from each other, each containing elements of prog, power, symphonic and folk metal to varying degrees, but each release had its distinct feel, with the band evolving and showing different sides of their music on each new release. Shadows was a rather complex, long-winded prog album, while Wardens was a super fast-paced, catchy symphonic power metal release, and Stonehymn had a style that felt close to Ensiferium or early Turisas, except with more of a power metal foundation, and without the use of growls. Wintersaga largely picks up where that album left off, with the folk melodies and gang vocals being the most prominent elements, while most tracks are very fast-paced, with hard-hitting riffs and some excellent musicianship all around.
All tracks have huge choruses, where vocalist Francesco Cavalieri shines with his deep and powerful, yet very smooth voice, which can sometimes get a bit wild, but in an effective way that fits the music, while the gang vocals and choral elements are also quite epic and well done. Songwriting is rather varied, with some tracks being more power metal-based, while others are largely folk-infused, with hints of power metal, some blend the two together, and others incorporate symphonic elements, though that side of the band never fully takes over, the way it did on Wardens. With Stonehymn being a huge success for the band, (to the point where they were picked up by a major label) it makes sense that they would largely continue with that sound, and everything is performed as perfectly as on that album, performances are as energetic as ever, and while the album doesn’t quite have the freshness their previous two albums did, it’s still an excellent, consistently enjoyable release from start to finish.
While the material feels familiar, the songwriting is still very high quality, and there aren’t any less than excellent songs throughout. Following a nice intro, which splits pretty evenly between folk melodies and symphonic arrangements, the title track (as well as the third single released) kicks in, and it’s a very explosive track, that gets things off to an amazing start! It opens up slowly, with some nice folk melodies, and epic gang vocals, but the pace quickly picks up with some explosive blast beats, and from there the band goes into full speedy power metal territory, with hard-hitting, high energy verses and an extremely fun and catchy chorus, with some excellent choral vocals. It combines all aspects of the band wonderfully, mixing some symphonic arrangements in with the usual power/folk sound, and is a very fun opener. Next is second single “Drunken Dwarves”, a very folk-infused track, which feels like a tavern song sped up severely, and set to power metal. It’s extremely fun, very epic and incredibly addictive, with an awesome speedy pre-chorus section, before slowing down for a wonderful chorus, where Francesco showcases some of his smoothest vocals to date. It’s another instant winner, and one of my favorites on the album.
Before the release of the album, the band generated a ton of hype with lead single “Diggy Diggy Hole”. The track is based on a popular meme, dating back to February 2011, when Youtube channel Yogscast came up with the tune while playing Minecraft. Three years later, they turned it into an official song, and this past June Wind Rose released their cover of the track, which quickly went viral, with Yogscast acknowledging it near immediately. The video currently has over 6 million views on Youtube! Anyway, the song itself is certainly worthy of those crazy numbers, as it takes an already excellent song, turns it into an epic blend of folk/symphonic metal, with an increased of symphonic arrangements and folk melodies, as well as obviously incorporating some heavy riffs, and it essentially turns the track into one of the catchiest, most stupidly entertaining metal songs released in quite some time!
Following that is the rather similar track, “Mine Mine Mine!”, a fairly slow-paced track, alternating nicely between epic orchestral arrangements and folk melodies while having some excellent gang vocals, slow-paced bu enjoyable verses, and another awesome, sing-along chorus, which is incredibly catchy and epic. The band brings back the power metal elements on “The Art of War”, which alternates nicely between more mid-paced keyboard-driven sections, and an explosive, speedy chorus, which showcases the band’s power/folk sound perfectly. It’s another very fun, fairly straight-forward track, with some excellent folk melodies, some great riffs, and excellent vocals, as always.
The second half of the album is a lot more keyboard-driven, overall, and it brings back some of the band’s prog elements, which are especially noticeable on “There and Back Again”. The track alternates between some very soft, keyboard-driven, symphonic infused sections that bring early Symphony X to mind, and some explosive, heavier passages. It’s mostly a fairly slow-paced track, more focused on the melodic side of the band, and it has an excellent chorus, as well as some great, emotional vocals from Francesco. On the more fun side is “The King Under the Mountain”, which feels pretty similar to “The Breed of Durin” from Wardens. It’s a very fast-paced, wildly fun track with tons of epic gang vocals, folk melodies, some screams, and an extremely fast-paced, intense and insanely catchy chorus. It’s one of the fastest, heaviest tracks on the album, while still having a ton of folk elements, and it’s definitely one of the best here. Closing out the album is “We Were Warriors”, a track which alternates between some slower-paced, heavily folk-infused verses that have a very early Turisas feel to them, as well as some speedier, more intense sections, some softer, more keyboard-driven sections, and some extremely epic symphonic arrangements and choirs. It’s the longest track on the album, at over 9 minutes, and it feels like a suitably epic way to close things out.
Wind Rose caught me completely off guard with each of their last two releases, and while Wintersaga isn’t quite as immediately impressive as either of those, instead feeling more like a celebration of the band breaking through, it’s still a highly engaging, consistently entertaining release, which expertly blends together elements of power metal, folk, symphonic metal and some prog elements here and there. Longtime fans of the band should be very pleased, while anyone looking for some great power/folk metal, with some symphonic and prog elements are also highly recommended to give this a listen. I was hoping the band would evolve their sound further, but I certainly can’t complain about them deciding to settle down a bit, especially when they’ve managed to create another excellent album in the process!
Written by: Travis Green
My Global Mind – Staff Writer
Travis Green is a Canadian based writer for My Global Mind, with a particular passion for power metal, as well as an interest metal in all its forms