Italian power/folk metallers, Wind Rose, have released their latest album. This is Wintersaga, released on the 27th September via Napalm Records.
Wind Rose formed way back in 2009. The band released three albums prior to Wintersaga but really it was their last one that pushed them to the forefront of the genre. That album is called Stonehymn and it featured the single To Erebor which scored millions of views on Youtube and Facebook. The main themes of the lyrics are inspired by the fantasy world of Tolkien and in particular the Dwarves, the fictional race that also inspires the costumes and the look of the band. Wind Rose are labelled as dwarf metal, but are really just a nice mix of folk/power metal. They will be looking to cement their place as leaders in the genre, by continuing the hot streak started with Stonehymn into Wintersaga.
Wind Rose are Francesco Cavalieri and vocals with Claudio Falconcini on guitars. Federico Meranda is on the keyboards while Cristiano Bertocchi is on the bass and Federico Gatti is on drums.
It starts with the pleasant, fantastical instrumental Of Iron and Gold. It sounds exactly like this style of metal should. Like it has been plucked straight from a fantasy film like The Lord of the Rings. It leads directly and seamlessly into the title track, Wintersaga making it seem more like a single grand epic. Wintersaga really does a good job of encapsulating al that Wind Rose are. Catchy folk melodies, chants and choirs blend nicely with quick drums, strong riffs and occasional passages of harsh vocals. It’s a strong song that catches your imagination and takes you on a journey with the band.
That’s really the big win for listeners across the entirety of Wintersaga. A collection of catchy and imaginative songs that capture you and drag you through magical forests, dark caves and ancient cities buried beneath mountains. There is a little variety on Wintersaga too though this brand of folk/power metal does mean that each song has a certain amount of familiarity to it. Occasional switches in pace bring the most change. Going from the epic opener, Wintersaga to Drunken Dwarves, for example. One being this huge multi layered fantasy epic while Drunken Dwarves comes at you with pace and attitude. A rip roaring jaunt of a song that would be a treat live and be sure to get everyone’s feet moving. Quick drums, accordions and plenty of opportune moments for throwing fists in the air.
The Art of War has a similar pace with a simplistic chorus but an overall catchy rhythm and layers of violins mixing nicely in with some chugging riffage. It’s not quite up to the standard of the better tracks on Wintersaga though. Some decent musical passages, especially in the intro, but overall the song is a little repetitive and boring. Boring is definitely not a word I would put against Diggy Diggy Hole. Aside from hating that name it is a damn good song.
It shouldn’t be though. The name sucks and the chorus, well the chorus is “I am a dwarf and I’m digging a hole, Diggy Diggy hole, Diggy Diggy hole”. It shouldn’t be good but damn it, it’s great. Excellent layered music with loads of folk and a catchy as hell chorus that makes you want to join in even if you feel silly saying it. Mine Mine Mine is about, you guessed it, mining of course. It’s another catchy as hell track though. There is a nice deep groove to the verses and a typically catchy chorus but I love the music in this one. It’s very guitar driven with folk touches but the riffs are front and centre for most of the track.
There and Back Again obviously comes straight from the Tolkien into folk metal handbook. It’s the name of the journal in the film/book written by the Baggins, of their adventures. Specifically this song focuses on The Hobbit. Its a good song too – references aside. It has soft, melodic verses that build up with a nice chugging riff and punchy drum beat into a more operatic chorus. It holds your attention well. The King Under the Mountain is the penultimate track and has a cracking intro with really heavy drums and a strong riff backed by folk instruments. It is typical of Wind Rose and the genre but no less good for it. It doesn’t really take off from there though. There are some nice musical passages and some great singing sections but again it just falls a little short of the better tracks on the album.
As expected from this style of music, the ending track is the long epic. We Were Warriors is over 9 minutes in length. To be honest, these big closers are often the songs that make or break folk metal albums. Make it good, and the lasting memory of Wintersaga is positive. A less good one, and it can harm the whole album. Thankfully it’s a good one. The intro is grand and exciting. The whole track is just a really well put together, heavily layered song that moves through different phases. There are some guitar driven verses that hit you hard with power chords and big riffs. Other sections lean heavily on the keyboards and folk sounds. It ends with 90 seconds of brilliance too with different cascading melodies and choir like vocal chants and leaves you feeling very satisfied.
Overall Wintersaga is a very good album. There are a couple of tracks that don’t quite hit the mark but plenty that do. The title track, Wintersaga, We Were Warriors and yes, Diggy Diggy Hole, are really stand out ones for me. When Wind Rose are good, they are really very good though. Their best songs are vast and cinemtic. They give you visuals as well as being exciting to listen to. Catchy folk melodies, heavier riffs with powerful drums and vocals that mix in style and delivery with layers of backing. It is grandiose and fantastical and exactly how power/folk metal should be.
Wintersaga is available now on all the usual streaming platforms. You can also grab a copy from Napalm Records, here.
Wind Rose Links
Wintersaga by Wind Rose (Napalm Records)
The Final Score - 8/10