Winds - _The Imaginary Direction of Time_
(The End, 2004)
by: Brian Meloon (5 out of 10)
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.


(article published 20/1/2005)

4/12/2002 A McKay Winds: Let the Cold Winds Blow
8/12/2001 C Flaaten 7.5 Winds - Of Entity and Mind
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