Artist: Wind Rose
Album Title: Warfront
Label: Napalm Records
Date of Release: 10 June 2022
I have taken a listen to this mainly because I was asked to by a loyal and supportive reader of manofmuchmetal.com. If it hadn’t been for this request, it’s quite likely that I would have let this album drift past me without a second thought. I do enjoy power metal, an assertion that can be proved by checking out some of the reviews on this very site. I also enjoy a certain silliness that the genre can bring. However, ‘Dwarven power metal’ felt like a step too far, and I moved on before coming back to it – unlike politicians, I like to listen to others and will try my best to accommodate as many requests as I can.
So here I am with a review of ‘Warfront’, the latest album from an Italian band comprised of five fully grown human dwarves. I’ll let this pass because the biggest surprise for me was discovering that this is the fifth album from Wind Rose. I thought it was the first or second release from Messrs Francesco Cavalieri (Vocals), Claudio Falconcini (Guitars), Federico Meranda (Keyboards), Cristiano Bertocchi (Bass), and Federico Gatti (Drums). But I am wrong, as the band have been in existence since 2010. Upon further research, I stumbled upon the fact that the band recorded a cover of the Minecraft-themed ‘Diggy Diggy Hole’ which would explain the cartoon-like cover art with a definite Minecraft feel to it.
On my first spin through, I initially pondered on whether the world really needed another band of this ilk, namely fantasy-inspired power metal hymns that have a strong folk element and a simpler Sabaton-like up-tempo battle hardened ‘call to arms’ or ‘rallying cry’ approach. And, if truth be told, I’m still thinking along the same lines sometime later. My thoughts have mellowed a little, but I have yet to be fully won over by Wind Rose.
One of the key factors in my reticence is that ‘Warfront’ feels a little overblown and unnecessarily drawn out. I understand the desire to create music that has an epic feel to it, but this isn’t always achieved by making some tracks last six or seven minutes when they would be much more impactful with a minute or two shaved off here and there. Of the ten tracks, half of them are between six and seven-and-a-half minutes long, but I’d suggest that only a couple of them fully justify this length. It results in a 55-minute record or thereabouts which is a touch too long for this kind of fare.
I have to concede though, for all my misgivings, that when Wind Rose get it right, they can make a very decent noise indeed. The opening instrumental is a rousing, cinematic affair with a strong central melody and as such, is more than just a throw away intro like so many albums these days are burdened with. And I do like the way that this rousing piece segues so seamlessly into the opening metallic number, ‘Army Of Stone’. In actual fact, this happens to be one of the most powerful of all the compositions on ‘Warfront’ thanks to a blend of driving metal and catchy songwriting, underpinned by well positioned orchestration that gives the song a majestic edge. It’s a similar story for the follow-up, ‘Tales Of War’, which is a grower that benefits from being a shorter, sharper composition with deceptively sharp hooks.
My other favourite appears later on the album, the penultimate track in fact. Entitled ‘I Am The Mountain’, it is a gloriously grandiose composition with a wistful, almost whimsical air to it. But it’s the strength of the melodies that elevates it so highly, alongside the way in which the song successfully walks the tightrope between heavy and bombastic, and something more elegant and poignant. One minute we’re presented with blastbeats and muscular riffs, the next it’s a bittersweet but irresistible melodic refrain, and the whole thing just works.
It’s hard not to fall for the acoustic-led folk infused charms of the closer ‘Tomorrow Has Come’ too, as it is another great composition that builds to a resounding conclusion whilst cleverly reprising the melodies heard within the opening track.
If the remainder of the album was of a similar standard and as engaging, I’d be singing its praises from the rooftops. But, despite the bombast and bluster, much of the remaining content falls a little short. It’s not that the music is bad, not by a long way, it’s just the the folk-laden melodies don’t resonate as strongly, or the mid-tempo stomping metal fare meanders a little too close to derivative territory, thus offering little that’s distinctive or far enough removed from others within this genre. I’m probably being a little unkind, but it feels like I’ve heard it all before, elsewhere.
But don’t let my thoughts put you off from giving Wind Rose a listen, because I’m sure many of you will enjoy the output an awful lot more than I do. I fully expect that I’m being a bit of a scrooge, with my views bucking the general consensus, but this is how I personally feel, and I have to stick to my guns. So, if the thought of dwarven power metal stirs something within you, I encourage you to dive in and enjoy the experience that greets you, regardless of how I feel towards it.
The Score of Much Metal: 79%
Check out my other 2022 reviews here:
You can also check out my other reviews from previous years right here: