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(55:34, Black Widow Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Turned to Stone 2:04 2. Land of the Dead 7:01 3. Last Chance 9:21 4. Gorgon 6:12 5. Black Tower 5:29 6. Winter 22:02 7. Clear Windowpane 3:25 LINEUP: Vincent – vocals; guitars, bass Sylvain Auve – drums; vocals Thomas Boivin – bass Thomas Bastide – guitars Emmanuel Peyraud – keyboards
Prolusion. The French band NORTHWINDS was formed back in 1990, initially calling themselves R.I.P. but altering to their current moniker in the mid 90's. Since then four full length albums have seen the light of day, of which "Winter" from 2012 is the most recent. As has been the case for all their productions, this CD was released through the Italian label Black Widow Records.
Analysis. That this French band has opted for an Italian record label throughout seems appropriate, as there is a certain Italian flavor about their material. Not in a traditional manner admittedly, as the sound isn't comparable to traditional Italian music or to the better known rock oriented artists hailing from these historical shores either, but there's a certain brooding, dramatic undercurrent Northwinds share with other artists of which quite a few are based in Italy. But the basic foundation of this band and this disc is what is generally described as doom metal these days, and then in its historic expression. Fans of Black Sabbath and many bands trying to re-explore their sound will find plenty to enjoy about the guitar riffs used on this album, and plenty of details that will appear instantly familiar. But rather than to explore this sound in a purebred manner, Northwinds have opted to include quite a few additional touches to their creations. Galloping bass and drum motifs closer to what is generally coined New Wave of British Heavy Metal are an occasional but common effect added to the proceedings, and a more common and constant feature is the use of Mellotron, organ and symphonic oriented keyboard backdrops, often and frequently with a darker toned, brooding and dramatic character to them, about just as often sporting a cinematic, atmospheric laden expression. While the band may combine all of these features to a lesser or greater degree, it appears that they are equally fond of exploring these various facets in separate themes within each given composition. The length of the compositions to some extent indicates the number and variety of the different themes utilized. And from the brilliant opening instrumental Turned to Stone, combining atmospheric Mellotron, dramatic symphonic effects and careful guitar details on top of an energetic bass and drums driven backbone, to final piece Clear Windopane's more distinct Black Sabbath sound, we're treated to a compelling creation sporting many fine and some superb moves. Land of the Dead, with its more distinct Sabbath oriented symphonic flavored sound, is perhaps the strongest of the longer pieces, while epic title track Winter may be the most sophisticated at least in terms of structure, diversity and subtly adventurous character. The end result is a fine blend of traditional doom metal sporting plenty of symphonic art rock tendencies and a few nods in the direction of NWBHM to boot. Well written and performed, with a number of compelling touches, in particular in terms of utilizing brooding, dramatic backdrops by way of Mellotron and keyboards in general.
Conclusion. If you're the kind of person that have Antonius Rex and Black Sabbath side by side in your music collection, enjoy the occasional Black Widow (the band) album or have a general affection for productions released by Black Widow (the label), Northwinds is a band you probably should investigate. And their latest production "Winter" appears to be a good choice in getting to know this band better.
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