One-man project Windrider is an emerging entry into the ongoing wave of folk metal bands, which seem to becoming a fast staple of contemporary metal. From the depiction of a Mjolnir hammer in the logo to the archetypical use of Norse mythology and Tolkien-esque fantasy through the lyrical subject matter; the listener typically finds themselves immersed in a world of fantastical journeys and never-ending battles between old and new, good and evil.
Debut album ‘To New Lands…‘ sees mastermind Elliot Vernon take his “band” out for a second round, where he seems to show how further he’s developed the epic themes and narratives initially present on EP ‘Muspelheim‘. Though oddly enough, what is present on this record seems to be something of an uneven mix in regards to quality and perhaps even intention. To clarify, it seems as if for much of the album there is a literal search to find the right balance and chemistry for all of Vernon’s musical talents. Albeit an “epic” atmosphere can certainly be heard on songs ‘To New Lands… (Prelude)‘, ‘(Part I)‘ and ‘The King Under The Mountain‘; one gets the impression that these tracks are mainly demos where he is trying to figure out his actual sound. Growled vocals offer the mental image of a Northern English Johan Hegg on one track; before following a more individualized direction the next time they feature. Consequently, even the goals of achieving a Nordic, mythological aura seem to be somewhat betrayed in a number of places by the music. Case in point, ‘There Is No Victory‘ hosts a guitar rhythm which feels more appropriate for an industrial number rather than a song about fantasy and war. Additionally, at some point the synth that arrives on the LP’s title tracks appear to be more reminiscent of video game background music; due to their clunky feel amidst most of the other instruments.
Yet in spite of all of this, ‘To New Lands…‘ isn’t without the decidedly stronger parts which work well in Windrider‘s favour. Onwards from fifth song ‘Seven Fathers of Iron And Stone‘, it looks to be that Vernon has indeed found his own sound and the ideal arrangement of his musical skills. Evidence for this comes from the evened balance between guitar work, less “blocky” keyboards and drumming on said piece; alongside a mythos which makes itself known and felt from the apparent dialogue that goes on in the lyrics. And although this could be attributed to the fact that it is a cover version of an Annwn track, ‘Mountain’s Sunrise‘ seems to showcase well where Windrider‘s sound should lie. The result is an effort that can be nearly mistaken for the original in terms of near-professionalism; however one may wish to take that description.
Even if there doesn’t seem to be much originality present, it does look to be that this could be considered an interesting release within the start of Windrider‘s career. Although it feels to be more than a bit rough around the edges in certain areas, one also hopes that the next album that follows will carry on ‘To New Land…‘s more fine-tuned aspects on to a higher level.
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