Of Entity And Mind

Winds - Of Entity And Mind ©2001 AvantGarde Music
1. Inception Perspective
2. In All Reflections
3. Bloodstained And Sworn
4. Mirrored In Time
5. An Eternity Of Dreams

Oh great, yet another Norwegian Heavy Metal supergroup, eh? Should I be surprised that Hellhammer is involved with this? No, I suppose not. But, what does surprise me is that this can hardly even be considered metal, which is a fairly pleasant change of pace. What Winds presents us with is a more laid back piano/keyboard and vocal-driven rock album. Sure, there's some heavy guitars popping in at times and Carl August Tideman (Arcturus) provides the album with plenty of sweep-filled guitar solos that certainly sound like they belong in a heavy metal setting.

Thankfully, this is not some half-assed effort at trying something new, which is only released because of the big names involved. There's plenty of nice melodies, interesting song structures that really take you on a journey, and emotional playing. But if what you want is "METTUUUUHL!!", you'd be best adviced to steer way clear of this and maybe go pick up Megiddo's The Devil and the Whore instead. But if the thought of a more progressive, lighter and less "weird" version of Arcturus sounds interesting, this should be worth a listen or three. There are, however, some flaws on this release. Occationally the melodies just sound a bit pedestrian and boring and there are times when the songs seem a bit awkward. Sure, like I said, it's no amateur effort, but it's obvious that these guys can do better once they're more settled in with the style.

If you're a fan of latter-day Anathema, Katatonia and such metal-ish, calm rock bands, this might be right down your alley. I'm happy to say that they didn't opt for some awkward black metal rasps over this music, but have rather hired Sensa Anima's Lars Eric Si, who delivers a very nice, if at times a bit sedate, performance. Still, this isn't something I can bring myself to listen to very often as it doesn't feel fully realized yet. I hope their upcoming debut full-length album will have shed any awkwardness and will show this band can truly shine, as this MCD is full of promise, but falls a little short of the mark.

Review by ōystein H-O

Review date: 09/2001

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Reflections Of The I

Winds - Reflections Of The I ©2002 Sub Frequency/The End Records
1. Clarity
2. Realization
3. Of Divine Nature
4. Transition
5. Passion's Quest
6. Reason's Desire
7. Premonition
8. Remnants Of Beauty
9. Existence
10. Continuance
11. Predominance
12. Inception Perspective
13. In All Reflections
14. Bloodstained And Sworn
15. Mirrored In Time
16. An Eternity Of Dreams

Jesus, Mary and Baby Joseph on Allahís lap did I despise this album when I first heard it. Upon initial listen, I was immediately ready to throw Windsí newest opus into the ever-growing pile of fecal, fetid, insipid promos that seems to accumulate near my stereo (along with every promo Necropolis sends meÖHAHAHAHA!), but as it seems with every The End release, Reflections of the I grew on me until I ended up loving it. I initially considered it to be an over-indulgent, Dream Theater-esque exercise in musical excess, although lacking the songwriting chops to make any one of the songs even remotely notable. That, combined with Lars Eric Siís weak and somewhat unenthusiastic vocal performance, made for a very bad first impression. Luckily, something happened. I donít exactly know what, but damn it, something oozed its way into my eardrums. I now find Reflections of the I to be an enjoyable release that doesnít necessarily knock my fierce metal socks off but is also an apt exercise in musical precision and technicality. Itís amazing how deceptive first impressions can be.

Considering Windsí lineage (Arcturus, Mayhem, the Kovenent, Tritonus, Khold, Sensa Anima), you can rest assured that the music is neoclassical, technical, progressive, obtuse, odd, showy, artsy, ostentatious, indulgent, and other such adjectives. However, as I mentioned before, each of those adjectives can be used in a more positive connotation with each passing listen. Carl August Tideman and Jan Axel Von Blomberg both set fire to their respective instruments, but the real stars of the album are main songwriter, pianist, keyboardist and producer Andy Winter, and his accompanying friends from the Norwegian Philharmonic Orchestra. The former providing a veritable deluge of beautiful arpeggios, and the latter dressing the songs in a beautiful blanket of violins and cellos. Unfortunately, Lars Eric Si, while being able to formulate melody, has an altogether weak singing voice that sounds a bit uncomfortable when he attempts to hit certain notes. That compounded with the rather useless, overly-dramatic spoken word that pops up on occasion can make for some annoying, but not necessarily cringe-inducing moments.

It took me longer than expected to appreciate this release, but being able to like and tolerate it over time was all part of the journey and ultimately made the album all the more enjoyable.

Review by Alec A. Head

Review date: 04/2002

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