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White Willow - Storm Season CD (album) cover

STORM SEASON

White Willow

 

Symphonic Prog

3.96 | 173 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
3 stars 3.5 stars really!!!

More than three years after releasing their vastly improved third album Sacrament, WW released their last album to date Storm Season. In the meantime, this writer had finally had a chance to see the group live, and could notice that there was a serious line-up change at hand: With the keyboardist Dambo gone (he was not participating in the songwriting) and replaced Froislie (he writes one track on this album), the old bassist Saebo had moved up to electric lead guitar (since main writer Holm Lupo is concentrating in acoustic strings and keys) and the superb Marthe Berger stepped in on bass, providing much visual pleasure to fans and a welcome stereo effect with the pulpous Sylvia still at the mike, so the group is now a septet (even if the picture only show six members). Obviously this album has a theme about the hardships of American mid-west life, as the sinister artwork and album title indicates. The group is sometimes augmented by a cello player.

A languid flute opens the album and gives the tone for one of the album's best track, Chemical Sunset. Sylvia's singing has evolved sounding a bit more like Kate Bush and Sigrun's cello brings the needed depth to make this song the most singular WW has done to date. If Sally Left starts rather unpromisingly, it does. It is clear that by the third track Endless Science, that Sylvia's singing is really the main change in the group (she must've taken course or something, but she's definitely more confident in herself, even if this also provokes a partial loss of immediate recognisable of the WW-sound. Soulburn gets the help of another singer (male) in order to toughen the vocals to meet the crunchy metallic guitar parts, as again this track is rather different than what WW had gotten used to. One of the most intriguing things was to see how newcomer Froislie would fit into the fold as far as songwriting was concerned, and by listening to Insomnia (his only composition) he will have no problem and might even bring a wider musical spectrum to the group. Indeed the mellotron and glockenspiel and different manner to write bring on freshness and make this track one of the better ones of this album. The title track is again very different of what we usually expect of the group and its sinister synthetic ambiance is rather repelling at first until repeated listenings will get you used to it. The closing Nightside of Eden is again resorting to crunchy guitars, but this is not as disturbing as Soulburn, and they are quickly set aside (they do come bak at well chosen moments) and Eden is a good place to end the album.

Although WW is not of Anglagard's calibre, one must recognize that WW finally succeeded filling the void that their countrymen left (I'm not saying this was the band's goal, but in terms of fans this seems the case), and are doing so more durably than Sinkadus or Wobbler. However this album does stand a bit apart from the rest of their discography as it is rather different-sounding, not that much as to change their musical universe, but there is a significant progression. It's hard to say whether this album is better or not than Sacrament or the debut, though! It's just slightly/fairly different.

Sean Trane | 3/5 |

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