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Look To Windward - Fortunes Haze CD (album) cover

FORTUNES HAZE

Look To Windward

 

Experimental/Post Metal

4.12 | 12 ratings

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Any Colour You Like
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Given that the progressive music scene in New Zealand is entirely underground, saying that any new artists have a tough time of breaking through into any kind of exposure is an understatement. This doesn't even come close to the reality for many artists, yet it doesn't put off many hardy souls from trying. And try Look To Windward have. Formed by Ben Morley and Andrew McCully, this Auckland based project present the new face of the Kiwi experimental metal scene. It's refreshing to say the least.

Anyway, without anymore posturing, Look To Windward's debut album 'Fortunes Haze' took me by utter surprise. To fully understand the impact this album had upon me, one must consider that this album was entirely self recorded (at home), produced and released. The quality of the production is as good as many professional cuts, and if anything, it seems uncluttered by the pretensions and over-produced cliches found in the genre. The album begins with 'Danger Eyes', a piece that fuses charging prog metal and symphonic flourishes. The vocals are very well done, placed well within the compositions for maximum emotive effect. Following is the two part titular epic, which evolves from fairly standard prog/death metal into more a more expressive and unclassifiable mash of music. The dynamic range of the band is refreshing, ambient breaks provide Fripp-like soundscapes before more deluges of warped time signature metal. 'Control' is a more restrained acoustic piece, again highlighting a compositional diversity, although I must admit that this isn't my favourite track as I found it a touch sterile. 'Zero Parallax' is an interesting but short dark ambient movement acting much like a split between the halves of the album. 'Behind Red Curtains' follows a similar method to many of the other compositions here, but containing some seriously groovy and heavy rhythmic changes. 'Vad Åskan Sade' is probably the highlight of the album, fusing neo-classical rock elements with prog metal, something not uncommon to the genre. However, the track doesn't feel artificial nor 'cheesy', the result is an emotive journey that echoes both classic artists and hints at a brave new path. The final two tracks are both epics in the sense that they stretch beyond 10 minutes, but also traverse a multitude of soundscapes. 'Deception' takes a while to get going, but there are some wonderful piano driven moments here, sure to make any prog metal fan appreciate the compositional foresight shown. The closing piece 'Forest is Moving', provides a final and excellent summation of the album entire, highlighting subtle (and not so subtle) changes in timbre, dynamics and tone. The forest is indeed moving, but this is one forest where I'd like to stay.

In a more objective analysis, 'Fortunes Haze' does have some flaws - nothing terminal, but nonetheless things to ponder. I'm not entirely convinced about the growled vocals, that while sparse, don't really match the emotive effect of the cleaner vocals. It is also worth noting that this is a long album, perhaps too long. And while this isn't a bad thing, perhaps as Look To Windward progresses along their path, the value of being succinct may become more apparent. At times it feels a little wayward and aimless, which is generally why the album tends to shine during the more dynamic sections. Nonetheless, I must applaud 'Fortunes Haze' for the ambition it shows, the poise and skill it highlights, but also for proving to myself that New Zealand's music scene isn't terminally deceased just yet.

Recommended to fans of DREAM THEATER, RIVERSIDE, OPETH, PoS, motW and PORCUPINE TREE.

Any Colour You Like | 4/5 |

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