Winterlong - The Second Coming
Lion Music
Progressive Power Metal
12 songs (47:24)
Release year: 2003
Lion Music
Reviewed by Jay
Album of the month

When I first heard singer Mikael Holm hit the opening notes of “Twisting My Tail,” I knew that I would enjoy this album. Right from the start, Holm’s voice grabs you and keeps you in utter awe of his talent. Not since Dio and Geoff Tate have I heard a front man who had such control of his voice. His tone, pitch and range are unbelievable. Why this man has not recorded more metal is a mystery to me. He is the perfect vocal compliment to Winterlong’s metal assault. This band hails from the north of Sweden and is fronted by Thorbjorn Englund (Star Queen). The other musicians on this album include Lars Eric Mattsson (who produced the album as well), Anders Johansson (Hammerfall, ex-Malmsteen), Andreas Lill (Vanden Plas) (I don’t know why they have two drummers but I’m assuming there were split drum duties on this album) and Italian keyboard hero Mistheria as well as bassist Erik Torberg (also of Star Queen). With a lineup like this, Winterlong is more of a collective than a group but that does not prevent them from releasing an absolutely kick ass album in “The Second Coming.”

The best aspect of the disc is the amazing presence of Holm. I cannot find any other albums credited to this vocal master but after hearing this performance, I think that will change soon. This tone is fantastic and rich. I lack the proper adjectives to communicate my feelings on these vocals effectively. The guitar work of Englund is precise and spot on. The solos don’t feel contrived and hearken back to the early days of metal. He has studied the school of Malmsteen quite thoroughly and doesn’t fall into the traps that Malmsteen often does. His style of soloing is similar in some aspects to that of Luca Turilli. They keys are killing as per usual from Mistheria (just listen to the last Rob Rock record!). The drumming is pretty standard power metal faire but Lill and Johansson are more than capable to fill that task behind the kit. The drum parts do have flairs that are not part of the true power metal mold and these shine through well. All the people involved with this album are masters.

Some highlights include “Wild Winter Nights” in which Holm thrills us over and over again. The recording of his vocals are perfect. There are just no flaws in his delivery and they are crystal clear on the recording. This song rocks in every direction and puts power back into power metal. “We’ll Be Immortals” kicks off with an astonishing drum fill and then enters high gear for the first verse. Talk about running out of the gate. The chorus is a keeper and Holm shows off his range again. I mean this man really just steals the show. It’s sad because the other musicians are just as killing but Holm’s performance is just unconceivable. The other guys manage to show off their finesse on “Ride into the Skies,” a nice track that has extended battling guitars and keyboards. “Northman” has a great keyboard solo for an intro to another wicked song.

For the Malmsteen fans, the closing track “Aurora Borealis – A New Beginning” pays homage to the guitar god. It’s a three-minute guitar soloing type song. Overall, if you’re a power fan you’ll like this one a lot. Any aspiring vocalist should pay close attention to one Mikael Holm in the future though. This singer certainly has a future in metal if this is any indication of what he is capable of.

Killing Songs :
Twisting My Tail, Wild Winter Nights, Northman
Jay quoted 90 / 100
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