Following their 2001 debut album “Valley of the Lost” this is a new release of the Swedish “power rock” band. As with their debut, this second album of Winterlong was also co-produced by Lars Eric Mattson (who is also active with his own band Condition Red (see review). The band features Thorbjorn Englund on guitars and bass and the mysterious Mystheria on keyboards. Mikel Holm is responsible for lead vocals and drums are taken care of by Anders Johansson and Andreas Lill (known from Vanden Plas). The last one also appears on the album “The seventh sign” of Section A. It is therefore no coincidence that the music we find on this album is very much similar to that album.
As you can read in my review of “The seventh sign” I find the qualification “metal” to this type of music not correct. I find many references to the powerful rock music that emerged in the (nineteen) seventies and that is still known as “hardrock”, with Deep Purple as the most significant exponent of this genre and guitarist Ritchie Blackmore and lead vocalist Ian Gillan of this band being an example to many musicians. This means that powerful vocals and flashing guitar and keyboard solos characterize the music of Winterlong. And of course thundering drums, for instance in the first real full band piece after a short atmospheric introduction, “Twisting my tail” (4:53). The distinction between the two drummers on this album is that Anders Johansson plays more chaotic, where the drumming of Andreas Lill is more tight and structured. The vocals of Mikel Holm are very much in the vein of “big voices” like Ian Gillan and David Coverdale of Deep Purple, although a bit less powerful. The virtuosity of Thorbjorn Englund is almost an obvious condition for a guitarist playing this type of music. His solos are all very melodic.
In comparison to Section A, the keyboards play a more important role in the music of Winterlong. Mystheria produces not only some fine melodic synthesizer solos, for instance in “Twisting my tail” (4:53) and in “Wild winter nights” (5:32), but also rounds up the sound of Winterlong with good keyboards accompaniment. The latter track and the following one “In worlds of illusions” (5:16) are together with “Retaliation” (5:17) examples of songs that for me very much resemble the music of Deep Purple: a heavy guitar riff opening, primarily up tempo, but with short tempo breaks and guitars solos with classical (baroque influenced) melody lines, next to fast paced keyboard solos. Typical classical sounding keyboard parts can be heard on “Ride into the skies” (4:14).
This album really keeps you moving, with only “Call of the wild” (1:12), with its easy guitar play and melody line based on an traditional, as a short resting point. Also the atmospheric in- and outro of the album, “Locking up the gates” (0:55), and “Aurora borealis a new beginning” (3:52) give you time to breath.
This album contains 12 tracks that will certainly appeal to the lovers of melodic powerrock, or metal of you wish. Because of the rather traditional sound en song structures this is certainly no progmetal, so don’t expect anything surprising. The good use of keyboards is to me a point of advantage in comparison to the aforementioned album of Section A and I therefore grade this album of Winterlong a half star higher.