Winds - Prominence and Demise
The End Records
Progressive Symphonic Metal
9 songs (55'19")
Release year: 2007
Winds, The End Records
Reviewed by Alex

I have been a champion of Winds for as long as I can remember. Having overcome my natural shyness talking to my metal heroes, my first ever interview was with Andy Winter, one of the most accomplished and intelligent musicians I know. I own Winds’ whole discography and zealously defend it against my kids ever laying hands on those discs. Every Winds album is awaited with anticipation in my household, as Reflections of the I moves not only my soul, but the soul of a few others I consider the closest to my heart.

After three long years of anticipation (maybe too long years) Prominence and Demise is finally here and … even more than before impressed by musicianship I find this record different from anything Winds have done before, maybe the most complex, but the least welcoming upon the first immediate listen. It is as if Winds members have remembered all of the other acts they are involved with and decided to come off as decidedly metal musicians, while preserving all of the Winds symphonic freeform.

For me, personally, the statement saying Winds compositions are the furthest object from an actual song is utterly senseless. On the opposite, I take pleasure in tracing the flow of individual pieces, identifying layers going in different, sometimes opposite, directions, all of the little innuendos and crescendos. There is no doubt Prominence and Demise possesses these traits in heaps. Winds have the knack to weave in acoustics as an integral part of the song, giving now multiple vocal lines their own place under the sun, while not losing a single bit of focus and determination (The Last Line). Given that Andy Winter is perhaps one of the most accomplished pianists playing in a metal band, and the quality of the hired professional string players, Winds always had an ability to boost and expand their sound blending in metal and chamber music all in one.

Yet with this album something has clicked to the opposite. Buoyed by bass heavy production, sharpened staccato riffs of Carl August Tidemann is the main feature of Prominence and Demise. Sometimes with the touch of reverb, but more often than not having the softness of barbed wire joints, guitars are without a doubt responsible for creating Prominence and Demise fabric. String sections are used mainly as intros (Distorted Dimensions), or only to add on the pressure and bring the point home in the end (The Grand Design). In fact, Where the Cold Winds Blow being half acoustic sounds almost meandering next to the mad precision chops of its heavy parts or Convictions and Contradictions predecessor. Winds have pointedly and decidedly eschewed the softness in favor of density and weightiness.

Given the mood, Carl August Tidemann and Jan Axel von Blomberg dominate the show. When not riffing away, Tidemann uncorks short and long solos, touching on the Arabic themes in Distorted Dimensions and The Last Line. Prominence and Demise drumming work is no less precise than usual Hellhammer’s craft, but since when Winds demonstrated sustained double bass (When the Dreams of Paradise Died), and The Darkest Path is literally one step away from blastbeat. In this regard, anything unorthodox, in metal terms at least, like the practically tango rhythms present on Distorted Dimensions tend to stand out.

On Prominence and Demise Lars Eric Si’s clean crooning is further colored by Agnete Kirkevaag (Madder Mortem), Dan Swano and Lars Nedland (Solefald), contributing vocal lines. Unlike many other opinions I have read, I never had a problem with Lars Eric handling vocal duties alone, and while Agnete’s role is heard profoundly (Universal Creation Array, duet on The Darkest Path), the other male vocalists do not differ enough from the main voice, sounding like the overdubbed layered vocal lines of a single singer.

I could center my specific petty complaints on Andy not given enough role or the string quartet not featured enough either. Whenever piano is allowed to sprinkle and spread its pearls alongside heavy riffs (Distorted Dimensions) the result is more than stunning, mid-section of When the Dreams of Paradise Died also showing how beautiful piano and stings can sound together. Yet having made up my mind that Prominence and Demise are a lot more about strapping on than being beautiful, this would have to be accepted and lived with. Having created the progressive heavy album, Winds have moved away from chamber music, making it a lot less personal, a lot less about inner feelings, and, as a result, a lot less me. You would have to take it for what it is and square away your own attitudes with this new Winds personality. I am certainly trying.

Killing Songs :
Distorted Dimensions, Convictions and Contradictions, The Last Line
Alex quoted 83 / 100
Other albums by Winds that we have reviewed:
Winds - The Imaginary Direction of Time reviewed by Alex and quoted 91 / 100
Winds - Reflections of the I reviewed by Alex and quoted 91 / 100
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