13 Winters - _Dark Palace of Waterfalls_
(Dark Valley Productions, 2008)
by: Quentin Kalis (7.5 out of 10)
It's obvious that 13 Winters's sophomore full-length is an immense improvement on its predecessor, to the extent that 2004's _Where the Souls Wander_ appeared to be nothing more than a glorified demo. Admittedly, some tracks, such as the "The Dead", did possess a latent charm with their raw and somewhat naïve approach, but insufficient to disguise a derivative approach that owed a bit too much to Cradle of Filth and Ancient.

13 Winters have gone the self-financed route yet again, but it's clear much more time and expense was expended on this recording, and it has benefited from improved musicianship and songwriting skills. The recording quality is markedly better, thanks in part to mastering by Jay Frigoletto, of "X-Men II" soundtrack fame. He couldn't have been cheap. The Unus Vir Symphony supplies symphonic strings (22 piece orchestra) on several tracks, providing a depth that no amount of synths could have, no matter how expensive. It's a pity that they were not utilized throughout the recording. Growls are still provided by Diane Adams, nee Die Winters, and sadly a female growler is still as much of an oddity as it was back in 2004. A bit of narration is provided on the epic closer, "Solace of the Shadows", and she shies away from an overdone alternation between clean and harsh vocal styles. The guitar work has improved immeasurably, with a greater use of lead guitar and less rudimentary progressions on the rhythm guitar. The inclusion of a Duran Duran cover is an unusual choice, but it works.

As is patently clear by now, this is a much more mature and stronger work in virtually all respects -- including artwork and lyrics. A label signing doesn't seem as far fetched as it did five years ago.

Contact: http://www.13winters.com

(article published 24/2/2009)

4/27/2008 Q Kalis 5 13 Winters - Where the Souls Wander
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