Since a transformation on 2017's "Stonehymn," Italian metal act Wind Rose has bared little resemblance from the days of "Shadows Over Lothadruin" or "Wardens of the West Wind." Now innovators of "dwarven metal," the band led by larger than life vocalist Franceso Cavalieri, is now closely aligned to the sound of Ensiferum, old Turisas and a near spot on replica of Canada's Scythia (who sadly split when they were at a zenith). "Wintersaga" presents a well crafted and highly memorable collection of hymns to mountain dwellers, despite the kitschy outfits and exaggerated male choirs.
Gimmicks seem to be a dime a dozen these days, whether its the well over saturated "viking metal" and "pirate metal." While "dwarven metal" may seem like a new direction, the music presented is hardly a new idea. I do applaud the band for finding that niche, because their popularity and name recognition has seemed to explode since "Stonehymn," even though the music has left some long term fans just a little bit puzzled. Fully embracing this look and style, the band has been highly successful, especially with the release of the visually entertaining video for the first single "Drunken Dwarves." In as much as it makes your author cringe at bit watching it, there is no doubt the song sticks in the brain...and dammit all to hell - I hum it all the live long day!
When Wind Rose picks up the pace (e.g. "Wintersaga," "Drunken Dwarves," "We Were Warriors") the perfect alignment of riff to the chanting male chorus is about as fetching as a song can get, short of being Turisas. The occasional shouts by Cavalieri as the testosterone choir sings reminds me just how powerful Turisas was before that dreadful semi-self-titled album was. It also reminds me about how Italian bands seemingly do every style better.
On "Wintersaga," the band is super tight and the production/mix perfect. Ah yes...Lasse Lammert is at the helm. Had I not seen his name, I could have guessed it, since he was the reason Scythia sounded so perfect. Add in the world's best - Simone Mularoni - who did the album's drum recordings, and no one can question that "Wintersaga" sounds amazing.
Though I promised myself a while back that I would not fall down the folk metal hole again, I'll admit that when I saw the song title "Diggy Diggy Hole" I felt both incredibly curious and out right disgusted. I could not wait to both hear it and hate it. Bracing myself when the song first started, is it any shock that those f**king Italians drew me in like a fat guy to a bowl of pasta? Yes, I can visualize thousands of chanting dwarves swinging pick axes and singing in unison. Yes, I know this and most of the other songs on "Wintersaga" are dreadfully repetitive. The metal gods have a unique sense of humor when your author finds songs such as "Diggy Diggy Hole" (makes me wince even typing this) and "Mine Mine Mine!" are among the album's best, while the closest track to original Wind Rose is on the title track.
While fans longing for the early symphonic power metal days of the band will find more to be disappointed in with "Wintersaga," fans of folkish power metal (e.g. Ensiferum, Alestorm, early Turisas) will find a lot to latch on to with the latest installment of Wind Rose. The band has found its niche and style to propel it into the future, even though some will find he look and lyrics a bit cringe-worthy. "Wintersaga" is a energy filled fun fest where you all you have to do is sing along, drink and be merry.....in a cave...while burying a pick-axe in a "diggy diggy hole."
Label: Napalm Records (order album here)
Release Date: September 27, 2019
1. Of Iron and Gold
3. Drunken Dwarves
4. Diggy Diggy Hole
5. Mine Mine Mine!
6. The Art of War
7. There and Back Again
8. The King Under the Mountain
9. We Were Warriors
Check out the video for "Drunken Dwarves" here:
Check out the video for "Diggy Diggy Hole" here:
Check out the lyric video for "Wintersaga" here: