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White Willow - Terminal Twilight CD (album) cover

TERMINAL TWILIGHT

White Willow

 

Symphonic Prog

3.88 | 273 ratings

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Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer
4 stars 'Terminal Twilight' - White Willow (8/10)

Being from the musical background that I am, when I first think of Norwegian music, images of frostbitten, harsh black metal come to mind. Ironically for me, this latest output from Norwegian act White Willow is about as far from that as one can get, although I've recently been enlightened to the fact that the keyboardist from this band is in black metal act In Lingua Mortua. In any case, White Willow come from a legacy of Scandinavian bands that have been upholding the symphonic prog rock tradition since it fell out of favour in the UK during the 1980s. With the band Anglagard coming first to find, Scandinavian prog has become a fairly well-established scene, and home to some great bands. This is the first album I have heard from White Willow, although from my understanding, this band has received some real acclaim in the past. Unlike many bands that call themselves prog, White Willow continuously reinvent their sound, and on this sixth album 'Terminal Twilight', I would imagine they have done it again. For my experience, this is a beautifully delicate record, a symphonic prog album that for once sounds truly fresh to me. I have found myself very intrigued and touched by what the band has done here.

Although it is my knowledge that earlier albums by this band made dominant use of acoustic guitars, 'Terminal Twilight' is a keyboard-driven work, if anything. There are guitars and drums here, but the instrument most prevalent here are the synths, played here quite tastefully by Lars Fredrik Froislie. The music sounds like the band's name rolls off of one's tongue; it is soft, beautiful, and gentle to the touch. Wonderfully complimenting the lush keyboard arrangements are the vocals of Sylvia Skjellestad, a singer with a gorgeous voice that often reminds me of Bjork in a way. The way Froislie's keyboards and Skjellestad's smooth delivery wrap around each other renders a very warm, romantic tone to the music, and all of this is conveyed with a very professional sounding sense of production. Although the other musicians in this band have certainly had their moments to shine in earlier records from my understanding, the two musicians I have mentioned are the ones that fuel 'Terminal Twilight', and the combination is a very good one.

Most of the best moments on this album- the ones that gave me chills- are largely derived from Sylvia's voice; she has a haunting vibrato in her delivery that shivers like wind through leaves, and this is best exemplified in two of my favourite songs here; 'Snowswept' and 'Floor 67', the latter of which being the track that inspired my Bjork comparison. The tense 'Hawks Circle The Mountain' and epic 'Searise' are also very strong; the writing to this album sounds fresh, and I am impressed that the band could use vintage sounding instruments and create music that is so modern. The highlights here are among the best things I have heard this year, although I would not say I am quite as stirred by everything on the album. Sometimes, the melodies feel a little stirring than they could have been ideally, but it's the moments of beauty here where the light shines through, and gives me such a strong impression in regards to the album; an excellent outing for distinctly modern symphonic prog.

Conor Fynes | 4/5 |

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