|Release Date||27 September 2019|
|Record Label||Napalm Records|
Well, summer’s over. That means the time for beaches, bimbos, and barbecues is at it’s end, being instead replaced by the dark, wind, and cold. However, this is the perfect season for a dwarf! And what better way to explore your potential dwarfhood than cranking out the meanest, mightiest of man-metal? Enter Wind Rose, Italy’s finest dwarf metal army, and their fourth album, Wintersaga. As the band’s most impressive album to date, it’s as if it was smithed in the forges of Khazad-dum itself. If its epic chants and upbeat hymns aren’t enough to get you into the season, they’ll at least get your blood flowing hard enough to keep you warm.
As usual, the Tolkein themes are strong in Wintersaga, as is evident in half of the song titles. Additionally, the album is split into two sections; the first contains the fun, catchy party tunes, and the second, which encompasses the final three songs, features a more power prog approach that hearkens to the band’s earlier works.
However, the core sound of Wind Rose has shifted as a whole from their progressive power metal roots to settle upon a more bombastic, anthemic sound in Wintersaga. Traces of their past are still present in the form of dynamic songs with multiple sections, especially in the nine-minute epic, ‘We Were Warriors’. There’s a heavy reliance on choirs and orchestrations to maintain an imposing atmosphere, but the heavy guitars and insane drumming give the album a mountainous foothold. On top of that, for such an in-your-face approach to metal, the transition between every section is seamless.
But the real power behind Wintersaga is the onslaught of chanted, mead-fueled folk melodies which would give even Alestorm a run for their money. Songs like ‘Drunken Dwarves’ and ‘The Art of War’ are sure to get all sorts of bottoms up. Even the heavier, more rugged refrains of ‘Diggy Diggy Hole’ and ‘Mine Mine Mine!’ will invoke a similar sense of merrymaking. The vocals are the lifeblood of this album, and they weld all the different pieces together.
Dwarf metal. How has such a simple idea never taken off as well as it has here? Besides running with a concept that simply makes sense for this kind of sound, the memorable arrangements and musicianship are as solid as can be, which makes Wintersaga amusing as well as a serious work of music.
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