Winds - _The Imaginary Direction of Time_
(The End, 2004)
by: Brian Meloon (
Norway's Winds have returned with their second album. Unfortunately,
they haven't really grown much since their debut. Their style on
this effort is much the same: "high-brow" black metal, in the same vein
as Arcturus' _Aspera Hiems Symphonia_ [CoC #12] and Lunaris' _...the
Infinite_ [CoC #61], but not nearly as good as either of those releases.
Given the reputations of the musicians involved, this album should be
quite good; in fact it is executed quite well, but unfortunately
there are several problems with this album that cause me to lose interest
after a few songs.The first problem is that it's pretty repetitive. Much of the album
consists of "progressive" slow piano and instrumental parts. Honestly,
these parts don't do much for me, but they would work well as counterpoint
to more aggressive sections. Unfortunately, the heavier sections are
completely neutered. They generally either consist of tremolo-picked
guitar with synchronized double-bass drums or a more traditional progrock
style with mid-'80s-style guitar work. Neither of these styles is
particularly exciting, as they've been done hundreds of times before.
Here, they come off more canned and sterile than genuinely aggressive.
Unfortunately, Winds keep going back to these same sounds over and
over again. To make matters worse, when they do try to experiment a
little bit, such as the Voivod-ish parts of "The Fireworks of Genesis",
they just sound hokey.The second problem is that the music is very pompous and melodramatic.
Just by reading the song titles (which include such gems as "What Is
Beauty" and "Theory of Relativity"), you get a sense that this might be a
band that takes itself a little too seriously -- and the lyrics (combined
with the earnestness with which they're sung) confirm this. Finally,
I must say that the vocals are not very good. They tend to be the most
melodramatic element of the band, and they're notably flat at points.
They're also too high in the mix, so that you tend to focus on them to
the exclusion of the other instruments.Ultimately, there could be some good music here if they'd do something
with it, but instead they load it up with pretension and cheese in
an effort to show how smart they are. This is everything that gives
"progressive metal" a bad name.
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