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Old 07-25-2022, 02:57 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Right Here, Right Now! Trollheart's Reviews of Current Releases


Title: The Wind over Dale
Artist: Moongates Guardian
Nationality: Russian
Genre: Atmospheric Black Metal
Familiarity with artist: Zero
Familiarity with genre: Some
Reason for purchase: I like the cover and thought originally this was a prog or power metal band.
Position in discography: 11
Previous release: Till the Wind of the Morning (2021)

As it says above, I was pretty confident this would be either a progressive rock album or a power metal one. I mean, look at the cover! What about the name, both of band and album? You’d very much be forgiven for making the mistake I did, even after hitting play on the first track I thought I was right. However, the hard, hammering guitars come in and then the scratchy voice, and you know you’re in that territory of metal where not much light reaches. Although my exposure to ABM has been minimal - well, I did a special on it during Metal Month III I think and I listened to about twenty-odd albums - it’s always been my experience that they have long tracks on their albums, sometimes only one or two tracks indeed, some of these going well into the twenty-minute mark. But here, the longest is just over six minutes. I suppose that should have tipped me off as to the unlikelihood of this being a prog album, but perhaps not a power metal one. Anyway, it didn’t and here we are.

We get going with what ostensibly is the title track, though just called “The Wind”, and there’s a dark, growly voice declaiming something before a sort of almost Viking metal sort of melody starts up, very epic and dramatic. The titles are in English so maybe these guys sing in English, but given the often unlistenable nature of black metal, I couldn’t so far tell you. The music is very good, with soft piano and thundering drums, pounding guitars and all played it would appear by one guy, Skilar, while the vocals are handled by Alexey, showing he has quite the range, able to dip deep down into the growl then screech like a mad thing. “The Return of the Mountain King” starts off all acoustic and pastoral, then thunders along, slowing down on keyboards and tolling bells for a bit before picking up again.

These guys seem to be heavily into their fantasy and mythology, with titles of previous albums ranging from Darkness Above Middle Earth, Lament for Gandalf and Cold Waters of Anduin. Pity there’s no chance of hearing what they’re singing about, but the music is really good. There’s definitely a very epic, sweeping feel about it, and you can just see the rolling hills of Middle Earth as the music unfolds as its backdrop. It’s not quite the ABM I’ve been subjected to up to now - vocals are much harsher - but it is very enjoyable. “The Road” has a definite power metal feel about it, with much string-like synth painting the musical atmosphere, and a fair bit of instrumental work in it too. A definite sense of seventies ELO in the opening to “Thorin Oakenshield”, very powerful, very gripping and dramatic (there’s that word again, I know: I’m trying to find alternatives) then very medieval for “I Will Not Say the Day is Done”, with possibly lute or mandolin (though probably made on synth, if we’re honest) and a sense of - well I have to say it, cos it does sound like them - Mostly Autumn here. Yeah. What do you mean, who?

I really like the way these guys can be so loud and epic, and yet tail it back to pastoral and peaceful when needed. The whole thing - minus the singing of course - comes across as almost the soundtrack to an LOTR movie; it would probably suit one very well. I suppose you’d have to say it’s not terribly versatile in terms of music; most of the tracks follow the same sort of format, with “Gil-Galad” throwing in some almost spacey synth but otherwise conforming more or less to the tried and tested formula the guys appear to be following here, and sure if it’s working why change it? No real complaints here, guys! I probably wouldn’t class this as atmospheric black metal, but whatever it is, it’s damn good!

TRACK LISTING

The Wind
The Return of the King
The Road
Thorin Oakenshield
I WIll Not Say the Day is Done
Gil-Galad
Sauron and Finrod Felagund
Luthien Tinuviel
Winter Without a Spring

Rating: 8/10

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