WINTERFELL - The Veil Of Summer

Winterfell - The Veil Of Summer

9 songs
54:26 minutes
***** ****


Countless bands have been inspired by the epic fantasy works of Tolkien, and what had a certain hippie charm in the Seventies (Rush, Bo Hansson) and early Eighties (Marillion), leaves us today with a stale taste, after three good if overlong movies and countless action figures. You can't imagine how pleased I was when I received a CD by a band called after a place in George R.R. Martin's "A Song Of Ice And Fire" series. This may sound sarcastic, but where Tolkien's novels are muddled by conservative and even reactionary ideas, George R.R. Martin's prose stands out with its livid realism and the author's more liberal take on the world.

And even though Winterfell claim to be a progressive power metal band (how often do we get to hear this these days just to be disappointed by rather unprogressive powerless metal music?), their take on that genre, without being overly original, comes across with a lot of punch and finesse. Already the nearly eight minute long opener Threnody (also the longest track on the album) displays Winterfell from all its sides: near-thrash guitar thunderstorms in conjunction with melodic semi-ballad moments, carried by the voice of a singer who still deserves that name. Inspired by the likes of Rush and Iron Maiden, Winterfell manage to combine the progressive mindset of the former with the virtuoso playing of the latter, although by adding a contemporary heaviness, the come close to the power metal style of Nevermore, early Fates Warning and Queensr˙che.

Most of the time the band stays in a welcome melodic power metal genre, although much heavier than most of its European counterparts, only the band's shortest song The Iris (and still more than four minutes long) is a true thrash prog song. The moderately high vocals remind of the heyday of Iced Earth, meaning you get a true virile metal voice. The bass sounds more melodic than with many other bands, and the guitars, when they are not fighting each other with killer chords, do some nice complicated signature changes. The drums take well care to pound the whole thing on.

The Veil Of Summer offers a short hour of some of the best metal I have heard this year, and proving that you don't always need a label to make a killer album. Even though Winterfell are the official band of the GRRM open fan community "Brotherhood Without Banners", also non-fantasy fans should get a whole lot of pleasure out of this great album. And who knows, maybe these guys will be responsible to get you started on the best fantasy series of all time.

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