Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Album Review: "Maestro" by Winterhorde

Winterhorde: Maestro
Until heavy metal came along few types of music adequately captured the epic scale and intricacy found in classical symphonic music.  

I have long believed there are many sonic similarities between progressive metal and the works of Mozart, Beethoven, Bach and their kind.  Both have epic themes, are bombastic in scale, atmospheric in nature and feature complex compositions. At the very least, these similarities lend themselves to a merging of the two genres which should be encouraged.  

However, within the black metal subculture this seems to be somewhat of a point of contention.  Although not the first to incorporate symphonic elements into their black metal bands Cradle of Filth and Dimmu Borgir, were arguably the best at doing so.  

Maybe it was their superior production, or more likely a jealous reaction to their incredible popularity, but many followers of the genre deride them for their failure to be “true” black metal.  Which is a shame, because I think this trend should be encouraged for producing some of the most innovative and resonant music of the past twenty years.  Israeli band Winterhorde continues in this proud tradition and is a fine example of the best symphonic black metal has to offer.

Hailing from northern Israel, which has just enough cold and dark weather to grow this type of music, Winterhorde have drawn heavily from both progressive metal and black metal influences, to craft what can be considered a masterpiece of the combined genres.  

It is regrettable there are not enough hours in the day to give this album as many complete, uninterrupted listens as it deserves, as one clever and catchy passage segues into the next.  
Heavy metal may never again achieve the mainstream popularity it briefly had in the late 1980s, but it is possible the combined results of five decades of metal music have produced a current, under the radar, golden age for the genre.  

“Maestro” is evidence this is possible, as the album has blended so much of the best of the past into a truly epic and unique new album.   

“Maestro” is an magnum opus which fully utilizes the album format to tell a powerful saga.  The songs seamlessly transition between clean and harsh vocals, with melodic musical passages giving way to aggressive guitar assaults.  

The assembled whole weaving a haunting tapestry as complex as the albums subject matter, an exploration of dementia.  Blast beats and tremolo picking merge perfectly with keyboards producing an entire symphony orchestra’s worth of accompaniment.  Sometimes slow and sometimes fast, yet always perfectly paced, the entire composition mirrors the fractured mind it seeks to describe, yet manages to achieve perfect order through chaos.

Release: 20 May 2016  

Genre: Symphonic Black Metal, Progressive Metal
Label: ViciSolum Productions




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