WINTERAGE – Nekyia (Album Review)

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Winter has come again.

Following in the grand symphonic tradition laid out by Rhapsody Of Fire, Dark Moor, Fairyland and several other prime movers of the European 2nd wave of power metal, Genoa-based Winterage have come something of a rising star of the scene with their own unique take on the style.

Though the high period of Alex Staropoli and Luca Turilli’s compositional collaboration has been this outfit’s go-to place of inspiration, they’ve cut out a unique niche for themselves by taking a few cues from Italian folk metal trustees Elvenking by making the solo violin one of the focal points of their arrangement, all the while sticking more closely to the Neo-classical operatic approach to things. Though their studio output has been somewhat sparse since their 2008 inception, culminating couple of respectable studio LPs and an EP, their recent output has seen their ambitions grow considerably, culminating in a newly minted metallic monster of a 3rd studio album dubbed “Nekyia”.

In contrast to their last album “The Inheritance Of Beauty”, what is presented here is a more compact and driving approach to power metal that resembles the glory days of the late 90s and early 2000s where the likes of Symphony Of Enchanted Lands and The Hall Of The Olden Dreams were setting the original standard.

Fast-paced, double kick happy speed anthems that employ blazing yet concise amounts of virtuosic flair dominate the lion’s share of the track list, while balladry and extended epic forays beyond the 6-minute mark are employed sparingly. It’s still the same basic formula from a stylistic standpoint, featuring an equal level of prominence between multi-instrumentalist and arranger Gabriele Boschi’s expressive violin work and guitarist Gianmarco Bambini’s sweep-happy guitar solos and rapid fire riffs, while vocalist Daniele Barbarossa’s high flying tenor shifts between full on operatic bluster and a somewhat grittier wail.

Starting off in typical programmatic fashion, the album is ushered in with a dynamic overture dubbed ‘Apertio ad Profundum’ with the orchestra and choirs blazing away in true cinematic fashion to build up tension for the inevitable explosion. And surely enough, this album does explode something fierce with a trifecta of certified power metal crushers in ‘Simurgh The Firebird’, ‘The Cult Of Hecate’ and ‘Numen’ respectively, cycling through a blistering assortment of galloping riffs and driving speed metal segments as Boschi’s violin provides a smooth melodic contrast.

Through it all, the comical campiness that one often associated with the 3rd wave symphonic stylings of Twilight Force and Gloryhammer are absent in favor of something more dramatic and serious. Subsequent anthems that follow a similar scheme of driving speed and dramatic displays ‘Dark Enchantment’ and ‘White Leviathan’ take on a darker and more aggressive tone, the former becoming agitated to the point of sheer chaos while the latter goes pretty heavy on the melodic hooks with a folksy edge.

In keeping with the Rhapsody Of Fire template that has always been heavily relied on by this fold, this album isn’t exclusively built off of speeding and Neo-classical wizardry, though that is most of what occurs. The slow-paced and serene balladry of ‘La Fonte d’Essenza’ highlights this group’s prowess in toning down the pomp and bluster for something more subdued, channeling several of the token ballads from noted symphonic power classic LPs from two decades past. Meanwhile, the somewhat longer compositional endeavors on here, namely the title song ‘Nekyia’ and the near 7-minute epic slough ‘Metamorphosis: A Macabre Ritual’ opt for something that’s a bit less reliant on speed in favor of a progressive take on the style, the former wheeling through some intricate transitions in rhythm and feel that really showcases drummer Luca Ghiglione’s prowess behind the kit, while the latter throws in some extreme metal elements and also sees Boschi’s violin and orchestration chops go on full blast.

For those that have been sticking with the ongoing career of noted symphonic power metal mainstays from the 2000s yet are nostalgic for the way things were back when the style was in its youth, Winterage have thrown together yet another ringer of an opus that plays perfectly to the aforementioned sentiment. It’s a boon for those whom want their metal chock full of technical high-jinks and Neo-classical clichés, so it goes without saying that shred fans of Malmsteen and Impellitteri alike will go for this provided that don’t mind a bit of Nightwish-styled operatic drama going on at the fringes.

If the relatively close proximity that this album has to this outfit’s 2021 sophomore album is any indication with regard to their sparser output back in the 2010s, it is hopeful that Winterage will be a more prolific force in the near future, which would be a welcome eventuality given the more sporadic showings that have been occurring in this style by the old guard of late.

Released By: Scarlet Records
Release Date: July 7th, 2023
Genre: Symphonic Power Metal

Nekyia Track-List:

  1. Apertio ad Profundum
  2. Simurgh the Firebird
  3. The Cult of Hecate
  4. Numen
  5. Nekyia
  6. La fonte d’essenza
  7. Dark Enchantment
  8. White Leviathan
  9. Metamorphosis, a Macabre Ritual
  10. Resurrectio ad Mundum

Order Nekyia HERE.

9.0 Excellent

One of the Italian power metal scene’s best kept secrets delivers a full length studio hat trick with blazing speed, virtuosic guitar and violin high-jinks, Neo-classical flair and all the usual auditory treats that fans of the sub-genre have come to love.

  • Songwriting 9
  • Musicianship 9.5
  • Originality 8.5
  • Production 9
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