Winter’s End – Into the Sea (Self-Released)

Thursday, 1st October 2020
Rating: 9/10

Now more than ever, independent bands feel like they are in a race against time to keep up with the plethora of releases from signed acts these days. Before you know it, years pass, and people wonder ‘whatever happened to (x) artist?’. That may very well have been true of Boston-based symphonic power metal quintet Winter’s End. Following a successful Lost in the Light EP debut in 2016, they played a few shows around New England, and soon fell social media silent while recording this follow-up Into the Sea. Armed with a new lineup (welcome guitarist Nevin Mychal, bassist Diego Puppin, and drummer Stephen Johnson) and wisely seeking out the mastering expertise of renowned producer Jacob Hansen, it’s evident that this six track, thirty-minute recording pushes the band’s abilities into wider births of creativity, performance, and dynamic drive.

Choosing to spread their proverbial wings and fly, the epic song “The Twenty Third Candle” at almost eight-minutes travels from faster, heavier Kamelot meets Dream Theater-like splendor into broader, quieter orchestration that fuels theatrical / cinematic splendor, the stuff that John Williams and Tuomas of Nightwish tinker with to perfection. The back half guitar break from Nevin is emotive, fluid, and breathtaking, as well as the upper soprano notes that Jessica Frost ascends to during the latter stages of the arrangement. Keyboardist Ryan Johnson makes conscious decisions to layer his normal chord progressions and orchestration layers on a song by song need, creating the right levels of tension, atmosphere, and melodic hook connections – check out the church organ strains and quieter ambiance against much broader aural strokes for “A Rose in the Ice”, the rhythm section mechanics from Diego and Stephen shifting from semi-progressive to in the pocket play to keep the listener very engaged at the first note to last. The band feel engaged in emphasizing the power side of the band as much as their symphonic textures – Jessica comfortable gliding in her trained operatic melodies just as one of the premiere singers not just of the New England scene, but sure to make an impact on the international landscape. There are even segments within “Empty Page” where you get a sense that audiences will easily clap and chant in unison to specific instrumental moments, the band connecting and engaging in a syncopated manner before getting slightly more adventurous and progressive again.

Topping things off with wonderful cover art from Jill Colbert, Into the Sea should push Winter’s End to the forefront of the US symphonic power metal landscape – and much like Seven Spires and Anaria, hopefully prove that New England bands can stand up against some of the international contemporaries.

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