is not a band that I had been anyhow familiar with before listening to this album, but listening to it once proved me what a mistake it was. The band is not playing anything revolutionary, but neither anything mediocre for sure. Stormwinds of Ages
could be definitely labelled as a decent melodic black metal album with everything it takes. It is not overly whiny, depressive or chaotic as many albums of this genre unfortunately tend to be, but it has a right amount of dark atmosphere as well as drama without sounding as if the band was trying way too hard. Well, mostly...
The album starts with a small treat for all those film quote intros fans out there - a quote from Dracula
(1992) which perfectly fits the whole concept and atmosphere of the album. However the band is not trying to achieve any level of stylization into any kind of role and the album is not telling any story either. This album is rather a collection of songs than a fluid piece, and the dark, slightly apocalyptic atmosphere is the only thing that connects them. On the other hand almost all the songs use pretty much the same pattern - the lyrics balancing on the borderline of epicness and cliché, an atmospheric passage, a guitar solo, dramatic keys and this all together is occasionally spiced up by female vocals by Erika
Tandy (Autumn Tears
, Morgengrau). However, aren't these exactly the ingredients needed to create a good song? In this case - yes, especially when mastered so well.
There is not a single thing that could be criticized in terms of technical mastering as the quality of the sound and the complexity are undoubtedly orgasmic and this only enhances the great work that every single band member did on the album. The choice of the female vocals was great as well. The band avoids the classic beauty and the beast combination and the female voice does not serve as a contrasting component, on the contrary it complements the already wide vocal range of the lead singer. When you add chorals and two other male vocal guests (Jason
McMaster and Jon Zig), the effect is far beyond amazing.
Another good thing which is worth mentioning is the album artwork which suits the music amazingly. This may not be important for everyone, but when one comes across several booklet disasters, it is easier to understand how easily can a great impression be destroyed by an ugly visual side of the album.
To put it all together - this is an album which should not be ignored. Even though it is not one of those which make you speechless or listen to it all over again, but not because of the lack of quality or anything like this. It could be rather put into the "too much to handle" category due to the complexity of every single song. Stormwinds of Ages
may not be for everyone, but it is hard to imagine that it would disappoint anyone.