Winterlong - s/t 3.5/5

Reviewed: 4-29-05


1. The priest
2. Ten digits of the future
3. Judgenment day
4. A vision of the wolf
5. Ragnarok
6. Each day we die
7. We'll ride from the dead
8. Bloodshred
9. Demise
10. Oblivion
11. The end of the longest winter

Admittedly, I wasn't expecting this 3rd CD from Winterlong to be anything special. I really like their debut 'Valley of the lost', mostly because of the unique vocalist, whose slightly rougher voice has always brought a nice variety to the genre. I also like how their debut is filled with short and catchy songs, as that's usually not the case with neo-classical power metal bands. But I was a bit disappointed with their 2nd CD 'The second coming', as they brought in a new singer with a much clearer voice. I love clear vocalists and I don't really have a problem with the vocals that Mikael Holm offers, I just have found myself missing the first one, as there are plenty of "clear" vocalists in the genre. Musically, 'The Second coming' was a slight let down as well. I'm not sure why, the guitar work is great, but maybe the songs don't stick like they do with the debut.

With this 3rd CD, simply self-titled, the band surprised me a bit. Although they still have the same vocalist (who is really good, don't let me steer you away), the music has really grabbed me this time. The band is still highly influenced by Malmsteen (although Winterlong has a lot more power), with a neo-classical flare that stands out in almost every song. Comparisons to Symphony X could possibly be made, but Winterlong is a lot less symphonic and probably faster. Not to mention the difference vocally, as the Symphony X vocalist has always been on the rougher side. I've really grown to like the speed that we get with some of the songs, an element that wasn't as present on their previous CD 'The second coming'. I especially like the very fast track 2 "Ten digits of the future" and the amazing instrumental track 8 "Bloodshred" that might be a Beethoven or Mozart song (unsure, my classical background is lacking) turned into a metal shred-fest. A definite standout, and one of the best instrumentals I've ever heard! There are plenty of breaks from this pleasantly surprising speed however. The short acoustic instrumental "A vision of the wolf", the final track "The end of the longest winter", and of course the well done ballad "Demise".

So we get a very satisfying CD here, with a good dose of speed (although I wish there was even more), very skilled guitar work, and a typical power metal vocalist that I'm now getting used to. All wrapped up into one, it might just be the band's best CD to date. I'm sure 'Valley of the lost' will continue to get its regular spins, but this 3rd CD is going to make its way into my rotation quite a bit. One of the better neo-classical CDs of recent, and sure to please fans of the style and definitely fans of the band's first 2 CDs.




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