Winterage – The Inheritance of Beauty (Scarlet Records)Tuesday, 19th January 2021
When combining terms for specific metal bands these days, horizons can be limitless. Especially when ‘symphonic’ is added to an already adventurous and energetic style as power metal. Securing a deal with Scarlet Records following their debut album from 2015 The Harmonic Passage, Winterage is an Italian quintet that infuses the magnificence of the genre with Irish folk, classical, and medieval touches on the sophomore outing The Inheritance of Beauty. Over the course of ten tracks and 63 minutes plus timeframe, the listener will feel transportation to aural landscapes of a Teutonic and Italian variety, from operatic and clean melodic vocals to triumphant keyboards/orchestration, violin virtuoso elements hand in hand with guitar excellence, and stunning rhythm section mechanics.
Throwing the veritable kitchen sink of soaring riffs, speedy BPM, and choir/operatic voices with the title track – the songs move from there into a mix of varying drama, the lyrical content a battle between beauty and decadence using Botticelli’s Venus art as the backdrop with humans and nature giving this new life. Vocalist Daniele Barbarossa has that flair for the theatrical aspect to his delivery – hitting some insane falsettos during “The Wisdom in Us” where violinist Gabriele Boschi and guitarist Gianmarco Bambini participate in a left field folk/jig instrumental moment midway through this driving arrangement. Expect larger than life choir-oriented vocals throughout, while the guitars and orchestration do their own playful classical to power and back metal dance. It’s evident that Winterage pull from domestic influences well established in the Rhapsody (of Fire) fold, as well as Blind Guardian – but then add those real Irish folk and pipes/violin inflections where Elvenking or Nightwish come up (check out the softness within “The Mutineers” especially in that last regard). Later in the record when you need that power kick of propulsive energy, look no further than “Chain of Heaven” to provide that spark – soaring falsettos, symphonic splendor and guitar hero worthy arpeggio licks flood in a Rhapsody (Of Fire)/Sonata Arctica fight to the finish.
Not everything of course works well – the four-minute plus “Ouverture” introduction to the record could have been drawn back a touch to achieve it’s set up status – while the 17-minute plus closer “The Amazing Toymaker” takes too long in the narrative segment start to gain momentum, featuring obvious nods to well-known Christmas music themes and just isn’t as cohesive as could have been expected for a symphonic power metal act. There’s no disputing the talent and execution for Winterage, and they could be going places as they drill deeper into the little aspects that can make their approach special.