First gaining notoriety via touring with Dragonforce – and even being featured on a live jam session on Herman Li’s twitch channel – Winterbane is sure to be THE album that will push power metallers Frozen Crown into the spotlight, with its driving force and glorious fist raising power proving to be the perfect showcase for this Italian 5 piece.
The ensemble has a powerful sound and the guitars skilful melodies and energy kept me captivated – almost forcing me to replay the album again and again – and Frozen Crown‘s fluid mixture of speed, power and good ol’ fashioned heavy metal will keep you warm whilst traversing these frozen lands on your gallant steed.
Now ‘leave your fears behind’ and follow me…
Winterbane sports some amazingly crafted songs, featuring soaring duel leads and even dirty vocals on “Crown Eternal” and “Blood on the Snow” for good measure.
Starting off strong, “Embrace the Night” crashes in with a powerful opening riff and striking opening solo, and the harmonic minor vocals over the verse are fantastic, but then after the second chorus the middle 8 hits with some harmonics that literally made me shout “holy shit!”
Towards the Sun starts with that classic heavy metal sound we all love, throwing in a pre-chorus gallop and sweep picked arpeggio for good measure, but then a duel lead (nothing flashy but super satisfying) was so good I grabbed my guitar and learnt the gist of it. EDIT disclaimer! This happens a lot! If a song hooks me enough and I pick up the guitar….it’s a good sign!
The quality doesn’t diminish either. “Far Beyond” was the first single taken from Winterbane and is the embodiment of power metal; featuring speed, fury, epic solos and a chorus to back it up, this got stuck in my head and refused to budge. Album highlight, “Water Dancer”, is then the best song Sonata Arctica are yet to write. It’s so catchy I found myself listening to it several times. I love a song with a story and this is achieved without fault, with the musical theming devices making listening pleasurable (I may have even learned a few riffs) and demanding me to sing along (to the best of my ability!!)
Honourable mention: Frozen Crown’s cover of “Night Crawler” is well done and is also one of my favourite Judas Priest songs. Hats off to them for having a go at it and they ever so slightly changed the solo enough for me to stop, turn and think!!
Finally, Winterbane is so well mixed you would think it was a fine bread ready for the oven! Guitarists Federico Mondelli and Fabiola “Sheena” Bellomo are in strong form throughout – both rhythm and leads sound amazing – while the assault of the drums, when they are going full tits, never overwhelm the mix and the vocals of Giada “Jade” Etro raise more hairs than a punk with a jumbo can of hairspray.
Winterbane is a powerful statement from a band ready to make their mark on the power metal scene! 9/10