September 15, 2007

CD Review: Wingdom - Reality

Progressive melodic metal with a slight touch of the heavy seems like a good way to describe the music of Wingdom as presented on Reality. If you are looking for music with crunch you'd be better served looking elsewhere. However, if you want something with loads of melody, some progressive tendencies, and the occasional crunchy mid-tempo riff, Wingdom could be the band from you. The five-piece hails from Finland and their debut album, 2005's Reality, has finally made its way to US shores. The band was formed around former Sonata Arctica keyboardist Mikko Harkin and former Rhapsody bassist Alessandro Lotta. You are likely to find some comparisons to those bands in their music, although neither are still with the band.

To give a better frame of reference to those unfamiliar with them, think of Dream Theater with a little less technical skill and a little more melody with lyrics with a distinctly Christian bent. You will notice I said "a little less technical skill," do not take that as a swipe against them. They demonstrate superb technical skills, but lets face it, there are not many that can match Dream Theater's pure unadulterated talents. Then again, it is probably a good thing. Who would want a world full of Dream Theaters? Sounds like a pretty dull musical scene if you ask me. Sorry, my mind wandered a little bit there. Let's get back to Wingdom.

Wingdom is a rather silly name, and I have not been able to find any history on how they arrived at it. As silly as the name may or may not be, there is little doubt of the very good music found on Reality. The entire album finds its home in the mid-tempo realm, nothing ever really breaks free of the melodic shackles. They are right at home playing in this range, though there are moments where I think it would have benefited them if they cut loose during a few tracks. I know, they must be saving that for their live shows.

Reality is filled with catchy melodies that are easy to get lost in, for example: "Tomorrow" arrives late on the disk, but features a melodic line that just lulls you in with a smooth bass line and soft, atmospheric keys. It is not the best song on the disk, but it is a beautiful example of their mastery of melody.

Every album looks to get off to a strong start and Reality is no different. The lead track is called "Time." It begins muffled, like listening on an AM radio, before being interrupted by a few moments of distortion prior to the song kicking in with keyboards and fuzzed out guitar. "Time" runs the gamut of mid-tempo rocker to soft melodic metal resulting in an intriguing introduction to the band. The heavy factor climaxes with "A Sigh of Despair" which alternates between softer melodic sections and a more in-your-face heaviness that is lacking from the rest of the album.

Aiming to finish even stronger than it began, Reality closes with the two-part epic called "Lighthouse." Running nearly twenty minutes a lot of ground is covered. The first part runs a little more than six minutes, while the more complex conclusion runs past the twelve and a half mark. Part 1 is rather straightforward in structure, playing the mid-tempo melodic/progressive mix. Part 2 plays a wider range as Wingdom plays with a more complex structure. It is a strong finale.

Throughout Reality one thing becomes abundantly clear, aside from the pretty good music. The star of the show is the impressive production value. Each of the performers sounds great, and the mix allows each and every member to shine. The rhythm guitar has a crisp sound that is just a touch to the raw side while the solos are crisp and clear. Keyboards move in and out delivering nice solos and building atmosphere. The bass has a nice flow as it steps from the shadow of rhythm guitar and drumbeats. The drums have a nice punch that doesn't overpower. Finally, the vocals hold strong at the center of their sound.

Bottomline. It may not blow you away, but Wingdom's debut is a solid entry in the progressive melodic metal category. It will be interesting to see what direction the move in since the lineup changes. There is some explosive potential here. So, if you are looking for something other than your standard power metal or melodic metal acts, this may be worth spending some time with.



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