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Winter's Verge - Beyond vengeance 4/5

Reviewed: 8-1-12


1. Cunning lullabies
2. Paper is blank
3. Unto the darkness
4. Not without a fight
5. Bleeding heart
6. Dying
7. One last night
8. Threads of my life
9. Angels of Babylon
10. Semeni
11. A dream for a dream

2 years after Cyprus melodic power metal band Winter’s Verge released their 2nd CD entitled ‘Tales of tragedy’, the Cypriots have returned to deliver their latest achievement and 2nd release with Massacre Records, ‘Beyond vengeance’. Winter’s Verge have been quite consistent with releasing CDs, averaging around a CD every 2 years. The band has also managed to stay together for a long period of time, which also helps with evolvement and strong songwriting. The band’s previous work have been good, honest and solid releases, however fairly unoriginal; and with this new CD Winter’s Verge are really needing that extra something that has been lacking in previous CDs to show why Massacre Records took the gamble to sign them in the first place. They needed their best release to date, plain and simple.

After opening for, and headlining metal shows around Europe with top-tier power metal bands since the release of their previous CD, the time has come for Winter’s Verge to step up and take the reins of their metal destiny. Like the interview I had with their bassist Miguel Trapezaris back in August of 2010, he mentioned that it is tough to survive as a metal band in Cyprus, as so many dissolve before anything is released, or the bands just go nowhere and break up after a CD or 2. Winter’s Verge is the exception and they need to prove that. In the interview with Miguel, it came across very clearly that they would work 110% to achieve their goals and do what it takes to become a great metal band. In the last 2 or so years, they have busted their balls getting themselves out there and ‘Beyond vengeance’ is the product of all their blood, sweat and tears. I criticised the band on a few things with their previous release, so I am eager to see how much they have matured and gelled as a band since then...

The opening track on ‘Beyond vengeance’ brings a smile to my face, as it is with this track “Cunning lullabies” that I finally see what kind of sound this band can achieve. A bold and epic styled track, not quick but just as explosive, containing wonderful songwriting that I did not think could have been done on the previous CD. Dark tinged in parts, with eerie instrumental passages that remind me of modern day Iron Maiden, the track contains both great hardened guitar riffs (Harry Pari) and wonderfully creative keyboards (Stefanos Psillides) that also includes a wicked keyboard solo. Lastly, there are noticeable improvements with George Charalambous’ vocals; however his voice is pretty much the last piece of the Winter’s Verge puzzle.

“Paper is blank” follows on and is a speedier track than the previous. Reminding me of recent Sonata Arctica, again I am impressed with the maturity and depth of the songwriting. Harry Pari continues to be a wonderful guitarist, constantly breaking out killer low-end range chunky riffs to go with his high end melodic flurrying and supreme solos. “Unto the darkness” is next and is a rather bombastic and aggressive track, both in vocal delivery (a few growls here and there, plus choirs), devilish guitar riffs and furious double-bass pummelling on the drums (Chris Ioannides). One of the most impressive and memorable tracks on the CD, “Unto the darkness” is sure to get the attention of melodic power metalheads. The aggression continues onto the next track, “Not without a fight”, albeit with the guitar riffs. George’s vocals are much more melodic on this track and his delivery has improved ten-fold from the previous CD. A sensational guitar solo from Pari is the cherry on top and so far this release is coming up golden.

Every standout fault/issue that I raised on my previous review has been dealt with on Winter’s Verge’s latest giant effort; "'Tales of tragedy’ produced nothing new or inspired" – it may be difficult to release something new and fresh in the melodic power metal genre, however ‘Beyond vengeance’ is very much inspired and the band sounds really confident; “The songwriting has let them down a little” – the songwriting has improved immensely, it sounds matured and fresh. What a difference 2 years make. My other 2 comments were about George’s lack of gusto on vocals and also ‘Tales of tragedy’ was inconsistent, however here on the new CD, I’ll give 2 ticks in both those areas, however George still needs a bit more tweaking with his vocals to get those high notes and delivery 100% right.

While the CD as a whole is excellent, there are still a few more kick-ass tracks that deserve to be mentioned in this review. Starting with the energetic and melodic “Bleeding heart” and including the keyboard driven and epic-styled “Dying”, and the speedy and ferocious “Angels of Babylon” in which Mystic Prophecy frontman R.D. Liapakis shares the vocal duties with George. Liapakis has produced the last 2 Winter’s Verge releases and again helps out the band once again.

Answering and silencing the critics in one massive blow (including myself), Winter’s Verge do have their best CD to date with the very strong, emotional, heavy and matured ‘Beyond vengeance’. I am pleasantly surprised of the large gap in terms of quality and consistency of the songwriting between this CD and the previous one, and quite proud of these gents from Cyprus, who may have taken 3 CDs to get there, but they have finally arrived. Fans of bands like recent Sonata Arctica, Stratovarius, Warcry, Axel Rudi Pell and the European melodic power metal genre should really jump on this release as you won’t be disappointed.




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