Wind Rose - Wardens of the West 01I’ll admit that I had to Google what a “wind rose” was whilst writing this review. Coming across as a standard-issue unfortunate but flowery power metal name, and I had awful lines like “kiss from a Wind Rose,” “every Wind Rose has it’s thorn,” and all manner of flatulence puns at the ready. But in actuality a wind rose is a device used to measure the direction and strength of winds in any given area. On their second full-length Wardens of the West Wind, these Italian meteorology enthusiasts aim to blow us away with some progressive power metal, but do they bring the storm or a small and forgettable gust?

Although the enticing cover art immediately brings Blind Guardian to mind, the songs behind it often sound more in line with Symphony X and Pyramaze circa Immortal with mercifully non-castrato vocals layered over deftly composed keyboard lines and chugging guitars that can often be described as “heavy.” The keys have a more Blind Guardian-y “medieval” feel than Pyramaze, and the guitars don’t often engage in the Dream Theater-isms present on Symphony X albums like Iconoclast, but contrary to their name, Wind Rose’s power metal isn’t too airy. While the keyboards do get a bit flowery at times, the chunky guitars tend to anchor it down with solid background riffage that gives the plentiful hooky keyboard and vocal melodies ample room to shine whilst playing down the cheese factor.

After a needless intro track, Wind Rose storm onto the battlefield with the Rhapsody-meets-Symphony X ripper “Age of Conquest,” replete with an assault of meaty rather than sugary hooks that make its almost seven minute runtime fly by and had me hitting repeat a few times to see if I missed anything. I didn’t, but as the old adage goes, time flies when you’re having fun. This isn’t even the highlight of the album, as that honour is bestowed upon both “Skull and Crossbones” and “Spartacus” in a two-way tie. “Spartacus” is a Roman-themed epic that recalls Ex Deo in spots with some punishing chugging in tandem with bludgeoning drums offset by massive hooks that see vocalist Francesco Cavalieri and keyboardist Frederico Meranda working in tandem to elevate the song from great to awesome. “Skull and Crossbones” sounds like the glorious bastard child of Blind Guardian and Alestorm with Nightfall vibes in the chorus and a Black Sails at Midnight influence in the verse, and a riff near its conclusion that recalls the stupidly heavy climax of Sunset on the Golden Age’s title track; most importantly, it all comes together like a metal Voltron to make a towering success of a song.

Wind Rose - Wardens of the West 02

Naturally, Wardens of the West Wind isn’t perfect. Wind Rose excels in quite a few areas, and Cavalieri’s vocals are one of them. His voice is a nice mixture of Russell Allen and Matt Barlow, and he’s charismatic and convincing with primarily mid-range vocal lines and some powerful but not glass-shattering wails. His low-pitched vocals, however, aren’t so great. “The Breed of Durin” is a very good song, but Cavalieri opts to use his lower register a few times and it sounds off, not in pitch but in execution. This is made more noticeable due to the overly loud production emphasizing his vocals and Meranda’s keyboards over everything else. Guitars spend a good chunk of the album doing various chugging rhythms, and apart from coming close on “Born in the Cradle of Storms” they never recapture the energy they had on “Age of Conquest” apart from a few cool leads. Make no mistake, the songs are thoroughly enjoyable, but sometimes end up a tad predictable and lacking in dynamic impact due to the guitar lines and overcompression, respectively.

Wind Rose already made waves in the metal scene with their debut Shadows Over Lothadruin, and Wardens of the West Wind keeps this tornado of momentum up. This is entertaining power metal with reasonable lactose levels, and it feels like these guys are on the brink of something excellent. For now they’re at the “very good” level, but I can’t see that counting as anything but a tick in the “W” column.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 4 | Format Reviewed: 192 kbps mp3
Label: Scarlet Records
Websites: WindRoseOfficial | Facebook/WindRose
Release Dates: EU: 2015.02.09 | NA: 02.17.2015

  • Oh man that band photo.

    • Tanuki

      It’s awesome!.
      To his credit the guy on the far right seems a little unsure about it all.

    • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

      Right? On Amazon the album is mistakenly called “Wardens of the West Wing”…the thought of those guys taking over the White House is hilarious.

    • “Why yes, we need these torches to light our path in broad daylight, is that so strange?”

      • We just wanted to burn the fuckin’ forest :P

        • I’m glad you guys didn’t, I’m all for supporting metal bands as long as they are environmentally conscious.

          • So “Industrial” is not your favourite kind of music :P… OK I STOP IT xD

          • I didn’t care much for the latest Fear Factory if that counts for something. ?

            No worries, man, I’m glad you don’t mind a bit of playful banter. Congrats on the release!?

          • You are welcome my brother =)

  • Vlad Invictus

    I enjoyed the album. It was on repeat for a week. Besides the bands you mentioned in your review, there’s also a hint of Turisas (Holmgard era). Probably a release that will end up on my top 10 for 2015.

  • brutal_sushi

    I was hoping more Pyramaze and less Turisas. But this is fun drunk power metal.

  • Wilhelm

    Interesting, I might like this more if they tried not to be so cheesy and didn’t compress their sound so damn much.

  • Monsterth Goatom

    Streaming the album now. Not doing much for me after a first spin. I hear the Turisas influence Vlad mentions, but it sounds like Elvenking minus the passion and sweeping melodies heard on The Pagan Manifesto.

    • Kryopsis

      To be fair, ‘The Pagan Manifesto’ would be a ‘best of’ compilation for many lesser Power Metal bands.

  • Kryopsis

    ‘Wardens of the West Wind’? An alarming (and annoying) alliteration affinity.

  • Vega Magnus

    My first thought upon seeing this on the front page: “Oh good! They’re Italian! This is gonna be that hilarious sort of power metal only Italians can make.”

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    Brave Fart….Sorry couldn’t resist…
    That clip is a classic, catchy tune…ridiculous…but catchy.

  • Alexandre Barata

    Now make it with a DR a bit higher, and we shall see if all the sound we heard wasn’t just made up by the wall of noise. lol
    Sounds interesting enough, like a younger brother of Turisas. Gotta check the whole album

  • FutureBeyondSatan

    With the leather, swords, and tough guy glare I would expect a more manly band name. I suggest Turbulent Tulip or Blustery Begonia.