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White Willow - Storm Season CD (album) cover

STORM SEASON

White Willow

Symphonic Prog


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5 stars Well,well,well...look at what we finally have here. When I was just overwhelmed by their previous work, White Willow are giving us yet an even better cristalization of everything they did before. You will find the ususal melancholy artfully melted with their nordic-folk influences. But you should also expect some denser structures and a heavier sound...and I won't complain about it. So, needless to say, this new piece of art knocked me off guard as much as any other 5 stars CDs reviewed here. And since it's my first review I couldn't give in for less then that.

Report this review (#32896)
Posted Wednesday, September 29, 2004 | Review Permalink
loserboy
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Since 1995 I have been haunted by the musical beauty of this Norwegian bands music and since their debut masterpiece have not stopped producing albums of the highest calibre. Without a question, WHITE WILLOW have quietly risen to become one of my personal favourite Prog bands of the 90's and '00's. "Storm Season" definitely builds on this musical lore as a dark album full of brooding symphonic expressions and skilful instrumentation. This album showcases once again the soulful vocals of Sylvia Erichsen which works in great contrast against the darker background soundscape WHITE WILLOW generate. Musically this band have it all with heavy symphonic keyboard work of Lars Fredrik Froislie (piano, mellotron, Hammond B3, Rhodes, Wurlitzer), standout bass lines (Marthe Berger Walthinsen), great guitar (Jacob Holm-Lupo) and (Johannes Saeboe), accurate drumming (Aage Moltke Schou) and a number of additional excellent musicians. A foreboding and highly emotional listen which will definitely need to be in your collection.

Highly recommended album.

Report this review (#32897)
Posted Saturday, October 23, 2004 | Review Permalink
Cesar Inca
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars After a 4+ year hiatus, the outstanding Norwegian ensemble White Willow returns to the musical scene with yet another prog jewel from Scandinavia: IMHO, "Storm Season" is WW's best effort, so far. It's also their most somber and aggressive recording, full of emotional darkness, which at times gives way to an undertone of self-restrained anger, barely hiding its intrinsic intensity - clearly this is a storm season that we are being faced to, a storm of exciting chiaroscuro. Since now there are two guitarists in the fold, the guitar riffs and harmonies feel "heavier" than ever before, and to make things even more dense, Frĝislie's labour on keyboard textures, mellotron orchestrations and synth solos shines like a wicked diamond amidst this forest of psychological oppression. Meanwhile, the rhythm section works in a well oiled and tight manner, and Sylvia Erichsen's singing at times reaches new levels of passionate fire. The opening track 'Chemical Sunset' starts with an evocative brief flute solo (pretty much a-la Grieg) that soon gives way to the full explosion of the whole ensemble; 'Sally Left' is a bit sadder than its predecessor, as if it were designed to grab the listener's worst fears and rub it in their face. Fortunately, some kind of relief can be found in the tender, bucolic 'Endless Science', whose lyrical beauty allows the listener to concentrate on the meditative and momentarily forget about the somber. But the somber comes back afterwards, only to stay until the album is finally ended. Tracks 4-7 comprise the best and most representative part of this storm season's repertoire. 'Soulburn' takes off from where the first two tracks had grown their roots, only with an added touch of splendour. That same splendour is magnificently increased via the clever use of captivating orchestrations and impressive mood shifts in 'Insomnia' and 'Nightside of Eden', the most notoriously pompous numbers in the album, and may I add, my two personal favorites. Before 'Nightside.' closes down the album majestically, there is the title track: 'Storm Season' is an inscrutable piece sustained upon an almost- martial rhythm path, something like a procession of spirits in a winter night forest, while Erichsen sings her lines in an exorcising manner. This is definitely one of the most prominent prog albums of 2004, so it deserves the maximum rating.
Report this review (#32898)
Posted Monday, November 1, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars I have listened to this release many times. I think it is very good , but something about it does not immediately connect.I would have liked a greater imput from flautist Ketil I hope that with further plays I might get into it more Nevertheleess I really like Sally Left which has crunching guitar and mellotron passafges and a great melody. My least favourite compositioon is the repetitive Soul burn

Report this review (#32900)
Posted Tuesday, November 23, 2004 | Review Permalink
lor68
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Well, apart from that typical dark sound of the early nineties in Scandinavia, which is not so much original and making it deserve an inferior score (perhaps "three stars and an half"), the construction of the songs is convincing us more and more- anyway after a careful listening. Their album reminds me of the atmosphere within "Hybris" - by Anglagaard- an important reference; but this time -in comparison to their remarkable debut "Ignis Fatuus"- this new release by W.W. is less symphonic, but always ethereal , despite of being enriched also by means of heavy guitars...well that's not the stunning folk prog sound of their debut, but rather a strange contamination between the "harsh" Flower Kings in the period of "Rain Maker" and something of "Porcupine Tree" as well.Ok I don't like always this kind of progressive music too much, but their research for some personal orchestrations at the Mellotrion and their use of charming voices too, are worth checking out at least!!

Very interesting music...from Europe, and that's enough to me!!

Report this review (#32901)
Posted Sunday, December 19, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars With this fourth album the listener finds himself plunged misty and frozen environments typical of the great snow-covered extents. No doubt that it will not leave there unscathed. Varied and very subtle, it releases a great quiet force tinted of softnesses melancholic persons. This "Storm Season" is really one very great and splendid album which one has much evil to leave.
Report this review (#32902)
Posted Tuesday, February 22, 2005 | Review Permalink
hdfisch
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Obviously there were a lot of changes in the band since the release of their album SACRAMENT four years before. Bass player Johannes Saeboes switched to guitar, there is another keyboard player and in addition they are using a cello. And during listening to STORM SEASON one can hear these changes clearly, the folk influence mostly disappeared and there are a lot of parts with heavy electric guitar. Their music not only became more heavy but as well darker even somehow depressing and desperate (but not in a negative way).

At the beginning of the first song Chemical sunset everything still seams to be as it was before, a traditional melody played by flute and Sylvia's voice full of sadness and oppression, but then low-tuned guitar riffs are setting in and later on there is a nice interlude with cello. In Sally Left the main person of the album's concept is been introduced, obviously the hopelessly looking girl on the cover's picture. The style of the song is in some way different to everything they've done before reminding a bit to recent stuff by Dutch band THE GATHERING. In the middle part there is a quite floydian guitar solo. Endless science which they played already on Nearfest in 2001 is the shortest and the most positive song. Soulburn is revealing undoubtedly their new style, heavy guitars combined with beautiful cello playing. The whispering vocals on this one are provided by Finn Coren. Insomnia is the only song not written by Jacob Holm-Lupo, but by the new member Lars Fredrik Froislie and therefore quite dominated by keyboards. This musician is a great addition to the band. The rather bizarre title song is the most desperate one of the album. Accompanied by some distorted rhythmic tunes Sylvia is singing a melody based on a baroque Adagio. After a while dark keyboard and Mellotron tunes are setting in. Last track Nightside of Eden is again a quite dark heavy one with a couple of nice solos.

As a summary their latest album is showing a rather newly defined band and really became an MASTERPIECE. I think it's a great effort by the band and it's a definite MUST-HAVE for anyone liking dark and heavy music from Scandinavia.

Report this review (#32903)
Posted Wednesday, February 23, 2005 | Review Permalink
CamilalikeVan
4 stars Melodic, beatifull, Meloncholy, These are the words that came to my mind while listaning to this album. From the start I was taken in by the beatifull yet gloomy atmosphere of the music. White Willow is truly a gem in an age where true progressive bands are hard to find (This is not for prog metal fans). The music overall is fairly simple but it is no less satisfying (This is coming from a lover of Gentle Giant, Anglagaurd, and King Crimson).It incorperates violins, flute, Mellotron,female vocals, and standerd rock instriments to create a truley hypnotising work of art.
Report this review (#36295)
Posted Sunday, June 12, 2005 | Review Permalink
Menswear
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Who knew that the 80's so-called gothic style would come back after 20 years and be a la mode?

Sisters of Mercy, Siouxsee and the Banshees and The Cure did made an inprint in rock history as the forefathers of the gothic style, at least in the commercial buisness. Today many youngsters with dark eyes, died hair and black clothes are giving a new breath to the gothic image; Evanescence, My Chemical Romance, A Perfect Circle and Good Charlotte being perhaps the best examples.

White Willow is a pleasant gothic experience. Not too dark, which I think is good. Too much gloom and shadows can easily ruin the chance of being original. White Willow is sprinkling not only gothic music, but also folk and metal topped with a very good keyboard performance (be sure to check out the keyboardist's new band Wobbler...better than White Willow). So good, you could state that their biggest influence could be....Hooverphonic!

Hooverphonic is a belgium electro band that made quite some ruckuss in '97 with the album 'A New Stereophonic Sound Spectacular'. The style was called Trip-Hop, with Bjork, Sneaker Pimps, Morcheeba and Portishead in front scene. The style never survived the 90's and Hooverphonic died also with the new millenium. But White Willow is definitely resurrecting Hooverphonic from it's ashes and it's a good thing to hear.

Winter just got better with a record like that.

Report this review (#41960)
Posted Sunday, August 7, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars A dark and poetic album with lots of influences from various artists. This is my first meeting with the band and I like what I hear. The song Soulburn is my favourite both musically and vocally, FINN COREN is hired for this song, and his voice is very much alike PETER HAMMILL. But the female vocal is superb throughout the whole album, also in duet with Coren on the mentioned song. She can remind you of MAGDALENA HAGBERG who has been working with PER LIND PROJECT. The album is changing from really dark atmosphere with heavy guitar walls to airy guitars like PINK FLOYD. You will also find some folk influences among the more quiet parts. It will probably appeal to others than the ones who are only buying prog music.
Report this review (#60171)
Posted Monday, December 12, 2005 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars 3.5 stars.The picture on the cover of the album gives us a clue to what is inside. Dark, melancholic music with surprising heaviness throughout. I love the instrumental work on this album and their heavy sound. I'm not too fond of the vocals that for me don't seem to suit the music. It's funny because when I listen to this record after not hearing it for months i'm turned off by those vocals, then after a couple of more listens I guess I get used to the vocals all over again. Cool to see WOBBLER's own Lars Froislie on the various keyboards including mellotron.

The first song "Chemical Sunset" begins with an ominous sounding flute followed by mellotron then the main melody comes in followed by vocals. Some heaviness after 3 1/2 minutes as flute plays over top. Vocals are back after 4 minutes.The heaviness returns after 6 minutes. An excellant start. "Sally Left" opens with some atmosphere as the vocals come in. Cello after 2 minutes. A great sound when it kicks in at 3 minutes. Love the guitar. A calm with mellotron before 4 1/2 minutes and the vocals return at 5 minutes. Another great track. "Endless Science" is mellow with acoustic guitar and vocals. It's ok I guess.

I love the heaviness of "Soulburn", male and female vocals work well together, while the cello and guitar impress. Nice chunky bass after 4 minutes. I like the guitar after 5 minutes too. Heavy riffs come and go. "Insomnia" opens with soft vocals and piano before hammond organ comes in.The song kicks in with drums. A dark heavy sound 1 1/2 minutes in. Check out the guitar before 3 1/2 minutes and the mellotron 4 minutes in. Nice. It calms right down with mellotron to end it. "Storm Season" is all about the vocals but i'm not really a fan of this one. "Nightside Of Eden" has a nice organ solo, piano, good guitar riffs, mellotron, and you can hear it raining part way through as well. Excellent track.

I really like the direction they have gone for this record, although there are a couple of tracks i'm not too fond of.

Report this review (#92500)
Posted Friday, September 29, 2006 | Review Permalink
fuxi
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars I thought this a dreadful album, and I urge all lovers of 'symphonic prog' to stay away.

I was persuaded to buy a copy for several reasons. White Willow is listed under symphonic prog; some of this website's seasoned reviewers have heaped praise on the band's work; their keyboard player is the guy from Wobbler, whose first album I enjoyed; it seemed promising that they have a female lead singer and a female bass player. I expected ominous, but still melodious, mellotron-drenched prog somewhat in the style of Anekdoten or 1970s King Crimson, with perhaps a few exciting synth or electric guitar solos thrown in for good measure. How disappointed I was!

Although the idea of dark, doom-laden Scandinavian rock on its own does not frighten me, problems with this album are manifold. First of all, melodies are virtually non-existent, except in the case of the title tune, where the band blatantly (and ineptly) rip off Albinoni's so-called Adagio. White Willow's playing in general and their heavy (or heavyish) guitar simply sound too primitive; their lead vocals are monotonous and crude.

If you're a teenage heavy-metal lover in search of proggy thrills, this album might appeal to you - but even then you'll still have to put up with childish vocals and a total lack of true excitement.

Report this review (#97085)
Posted Saturday, November 4, 2006 | Review Permalink
sleeper
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars After a four year break since their third album Sacrament White Willow returned with Storm Season, and the cover alludes to what is a very dark and brooding concept album that deals with such sunny subjects like fatal car accidents, suicide and heroin addiction. So, a cheery album all round then.

Up to now, White Willow albums have tended to have two things in common between each one, that the line-up changes a lot between each album and that they play soft, atmospheric, melancholic yet powerful and emotional music whilst still having each album sound unique. The first change on this album is that only one member of the band from the previous album Sacrament has left the band, keyboard player Brynjar Dambo, to be replaced by Wobbler keyboardist Lars Fredrik Frĝislie. Also bass player Johannes Saebĝe has moved over to play a second guitar with Marthe Berger Walthinsen joining as bassist. The second major change is that the sound of the band is vastly morphed into a much harder Symphonic sound, shedding all vestiges of folk in the process. As you can imagine, this is yet another unique record from White Willow.

After listening to this album, the move towards a much heavier sound, almost metal, is down mostly to Johannes Saebĝe heavily distorted guitar playing combined with a really deep bass sound from Walthinsen's 5 string bass. However, Holm-Lupo's guitar sound and the playing of flutist Ketil Vestrum Einarsen is similar, though not quite so tranquil, as that of the previous albums. The overall effect is something I have never heard before. This album is dominated by heavy guitar riffs, deep, powerful bass lines, smooth, tempering flute parts, keyboards that move from atmospheric pastoral waves to soaring solos using all manner of classic synths and sharp, expressive guitar playing over the top of the riffs.

In terms of musicianship, I think the band has really been boosted by the arrival of Walthinsen and Frĝislie. In previous albums the bass did little more than support the songs, it was a strong backbone, but not something that would take prominence (with the exception of The Reach) and be essential to the song, at least in a way that was clear for all to hear. Here, the bass is probably the most prominent instrument (though thankfully without distorting the balance of the albums sound) through the album, tacking an active role in helping to create dark, melancholic moods in the songs. Walthinsen is not the extremely fast type of bass player, like a Myung, Lee or Squire, but she doesn't lack for technical skill and this is what makes her so good at the role she has given the bass. Insomnia is probably the best example of her playing on this album, where she alone manages to creep me out with the scariest bass line I have ever heard.

Frĝislie's contribution to the album is not quite as overt, but just as important I feel. In terms of creating atmospheres, I don't think he has an advantage over either of his predecessors, Jan Tariq Rahman and Brynjar Dambo, but were he does excel his in the more technical passages and the solos. I wouldn't call him a virtuoso, not in the way Rudess and Wakeman are, but he's a step up in my opinion. His style of playing, though, is very much unique, even compared to his own work in Wobbler.

As I mentioned before, its Johannes Saebĝes guitar playing that makes this album much heavier than its predecessors and I find that it adds a powerful element to the music that perfectly fit's the concept and what the music is trying to achieve, namely a dark, brooding and melancholic atmosphere. Holm-Lupo plays a much cleaner guitar over the top of Saebĝes, or the acoustic guitar that on Endless Science, in a much sharper and forthright manner than before, something dictated by his decision on the direction of this album. Its good to know that he is capable of adapting, or maybe just pushing, his style to match what this album set out to do.

As with the other instruments, the flute and drums are being pushed in terms of the "power" that they are being played with. The surprising thing is that no instrument seems to dominate the other, giving this album the balance that it requires to really work. Special mention should go to the singer, Sylvia Erichsen in what would turn out to be the last White Willow album she would perform on. She really pushes her vocal abilities to the limit on this album, without ever overstepping them, giving her best performance, from a deep to high range , quite to loud and everything in-between.

As for the songs themselves, this is possibly the only album were I really enjoy all the songs. On the previous albums, short songs were definite weaknesses to the albums, but that's been changed here. Of the two short songs, Endless Science is a great work dominated by Holm-Lupo's acoustic guitar and guest musician Sigrun Engs cello, creating a shifting mood that matches the vocals perfectly. The other short, title track Storm Season, is largely keyboard effects with the bass and flute joining it. On its own this song would be little more than an interesting oddity that wouldn't grab the attention like the rest of the album. However, in the context of an album, this song acts brilliantly as a disturbing interlude, and as a prelude to, between the scary Insomnia and the epic closer Nightside Of Eden. The rest of the songs on here are all among some of the greatest that the band has recorded, each emotionally powerful songs that work just as well in their own right as in the context of the album.

I give Storm Season 5 stars as it works perfectly as an album and I cant find any faults in this respect. White Willows best album and a must for all fans of Symphonic prog in my opinion. Highlights would be the opener Chemical Sunset and the "epics" Soulburn and Nightside Of Eden. Enjoy.

Report this review (#98367)
Posted Saturday, November 11, 2006 | Review Permalink
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.

Report this review (#121464)
Posted Thursday, May 10, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars A very dark album, just like the cover indicates.

White Willow has come a long way from their folksy, mellow debut album. While I wouldn't exactly call this album heavy, it certainly is heavier than their previous efforts. When I saw this band perform at Nearfest back in 2001, they came across as a very skilled retro prog band. Not really sounding like any particular 70's prog band, but using the more organic sounds of those days. With this album, it seems they were making a conscious attempt to come into the 21st century, incorporating loops and beats more associated with modern music than with retro. For my taste, it works quite well.

The vocals are, as always, sublime. This would be Sylvia Erichsen's final White Willow album, and unlike the revolving door of other band positions (with the exception of band leader, guitarist Holm-Lupo), she appeared on every album except the debut. But here, she makes an impressive farewell performance, softening the edges of this heavier, darker and more modern sounding Willow. Still, the classic keyboard sounds have not disappeared, as newcomer Frĝislie brings his Hammonds, Mellotrons, and mini moogs to bear in fine fashion. I suspect some of the heaviness on this album is due to the fact that for the first (and only) time White Willow have two guitarists; Johannes Saebĝe gives the bass over to newcomer Marthe Berger Walthinsen and picks up the guitar. This is most noticeable in songs like Soulburn (where Black Sabbath is evoked at times) and the opening track, Chemical Sunset.

This album took some time for me to appreciate, as I was used to and enjoyed the former lighter retro prog version of the this band. Don't get me wrong, this is not anywhere near prog metal, but it is most definitely a darker and heavier band with more modern elements thrown in. But the time was well worth it, and I consider this one of their best albums to date, if not actually the best. While they take a while to come out with new albums, the time seems well spent as each one is different from the last while still maintaining the identity of the band, still seeming like a natural progression from the last album. This is no exception. Just be prepared for a darker, heavier, and more updated White Willow (have I used those three words enough to get the point across yet? :-)

A solid 4 star album and not a bad place to start for the newcomer to this band. For fans of the earlier albums, approach with caution as this is a fairly different approach. But give it time, and it will reveal its delights to you (and the angelic vocals are there as a kind of lifeline to the previous albums).

Report this review (#141387)
Posted Monday, October 1, 2007 | Review Permalink
tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Progress (a much ballyhooed word), the buzzing propeller for those audiophiles "whose forty year mission to seek new frontiers and to boldly go where no one has gone before" is sometimes guilty of flying off the universal map (Einstein and others are wrong, the universe is not infinite, only human stupidity can go on forever!). I mean it's nice to constantly stir the pot but ultimately when you put too many spices and toss in all kinds of kitchen plumbing, it doesn't taste anywhere near what you were hoping for. This is where White Willow has "progressed" with a fourth album that has nothing in common with their first but is a further exalted step from their last, with an even more powerful Gothic element that frankly resembles now a stew with too much pepper and its making me sneeze. I deeply enjoy renaissance, medieval, baroque and even gothic flavored rock music especially when the mood matches the melody. Unfortunately, the tendency can freeze these two important components and one is left with a frigid, loud and visceral blizzard that leaves this reviewer, er..cold. Not that this is a bad album, au contraire! Everything about "Storm Season" exudes that creepiness that permeates a typical blood & guts horror movie, from the "Wizard of Oz meets Saw2" artwork with only Toto as a spike-collared Doberman missing from the layout, to the highly problematic and deranged Linda Blair -teenage devil in the Exorcist- vocal work of Silvia Erichsen. Her vocals were somehow acceptable on the previous album "Sacrament" but are totally out of place here, as the music gets darker. "Chemical Sunset" starts out cleverly with the solemn Mellotron, lush orchestration, flute cascades toying with a mourning cello, all lacerated by some chain saw electric guitar played by Freddy, sorry . Jacob Holm-Lupo, the White Willow leader. "Sally Left" has again lots of doom and gloom, eerie atmospherics dizzy with promise but no magic black or otherwise and even though the axe solo is supreme, there is a feeling of dull anesthesia, a decent track that could have been a scorcher. I realize that it's the vocals that are the real culprit, being a tad too lame to be really believable. "Endless Science" is the exact opposite, where the frail voice evokes way more passion than style and it works! The acoustic aspect certainly reveals their true talent (which is why their debut recording was so appealing, to these ears anyway), way more believable and original than when they try to steam roller their musical message. "Soulburn" is a plodder, unsure whether to swoon or swagger, the cello being the main messenger, piano colorations and an insistent guitar solo that all conspire to elevate the arrangement nicely but both the female and male whispered vocals lack conviction, verging almost on ridicule. "Insomnia" is the thunderous track that exemplifies my reaction, with fabulous playing sabotaged by a frantic singing voice that just cannot marry well with the haunting mellotron, the coarse drumming, rotund bass rumbling and the sharp guits. The title track and the final piece both proffer this exact same impression, a kindergarten voice blurring the lush orchestrations and muting the brilliant playing. A disturbing disc that will please some , scare away others but will leave most with the feeling of what could have been. I truly believe that a more conventional lead vocalist (like Rob Sowden of Arena or even Stu Nicholson of Galahad) would have been a much better fit with the splendid music. Ditch the witch and hire a howler but all is moot as I heard the band has ceased operating, at least as White Willow. Finally, I get to diverge from sinkadotentree, it was about time . 3 frozen leaves.
Report this review (#169553)
Posted Friday, May 2, 2008 | Review Permalink
ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars "White Willow" goes on with their fine and dark prog music from the North.

This album is in-line with its predecessor Sacrament which is still their best effort to date IMO. The same qualities and the same default are all present on this "Strom Season". The weakness being taken care of by Sylvia Erichsen whose voice could never attract nor please me at all. She still sounds as a early teenager (she already sounded as such on "Ex Tenebris" released six years prior to this album).

The instrumental parts are awesome for the majority. The opening song is another of their great tracks that should convert any proghead to their cause. It is full of splendid and cold beauty. "Chemical Sunset" is one of my fave from this work.

"Sally Left" features an icy atmosphere. Cello, mellotron combined with a harder edge are quite extraordinary. It is almost heavy during the second half; but not a noisy one: just enough to offer a great contrast with the overall mood. It is an excellent song as well.

The heavier style is confirmed during "Soulburn". The cello is still on the forefront, but strong guitar is also of high value. Vocals are shared which is not too bad an idea. "Soulburn" is not the best number of this album, but it offers another and new angle of their music.

Sylvia's laments are difficult to bear for me during "Insomnia". It is again a pity since some of the best mellotron passages are featured on this track.

This album is a clear move to a heavier sound, almost doom metal at times ("Nightside Of Eden"). It is still pleasant though and I would rate "Storm Season" with three stars.

Report this review (#186934)
Posted Saturday, October 25, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars David Gilmour backed by Mellotron !

Perhaps this album is their best in terms of composition and music arrangement. Storm Season is a concept album, but you will get into it just because of the melody and play. "Chemical Sunset" starts with flute and strings that has a melody you will not forget once you hear. Relatively hardedge guitar is more featured than the other albums, but this balance makes it good.

"Sally Left" is one of the best tune in the album. As it goes, you hear King Crimson like mellotron and violin, but soon it is emotionally developed by Pink Floyd like dramatic guitar. This tune represents their music very well.

You may think that there are many band like them if I refer to KC and Floyd, but actually I don't think of anybody. They are unique.

Report this review (#453226)
Posted Saturday, May 28, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Dark but sweet.

I got this album on a binge purchase, based on quite good reviews here. This CD is excellent from front the eerie cover (I guess that's Sally from the lyrics), to the actual music in the CD. I am not a real fan of the band but i heard some older work by White Willow. The production here is much better and i like eccentric voice of Sylvia Erichsen more than the more mature but commercial- oriented voice of the new singer in WW's next album Signal to Noise. I think Sylvia sounded a bit like Kate Bush but that doesnt mean she is not totally unoriginal. Let's say the music suits her voice perfectly.

The folk elements in all songs work beautifully well, and provides a stark contrast with the very very dark content of this concept album. The melody of the opening track Chemical Sunset is very haunting in both sense of the word and sticks in my head for weeks already. The flute work in particular is very memorable.

Instrumentation and vocal work in Sally Left provides an image of the somber girl in the cover, standing alone in the rain in a dark cold day (Summer had left me behind). Sylvia is the crying girl and the instruments provide the stormy landscape.

Endless Science is beautiful and provides a 'light' break to this otherwise dark album, just like a cloud break and the sun is shining through, albeit briefly. good cello on the left speaker. The music in this song strangely thinks what Moon Safari would sound like on their most gloomy day and minus vocal harmony.

Soulburn starts out heavy. Male vocal in the very low registry contrasts with Sylvia's when she storms in the next verse along with the full band. The calm and the heavy movements alternate and the mid instrumental section is superb. The distorted rhythm guitar riffs sound like a heavy metal band proper and the brief mellotron solo is prog-lovers' paradise. I love this song.

The bass bass is pretty prominent in various instrumental sections of this song. i am not a bass player but from a few reviews this seems to be very impressive. I am more keen for the build up to the full band experience. Sylvia sounds like she really gave her all this song (Just one last touch as the curtain falls down...) and the lyrics are pretty creepy (the blood upon my hand cannot be my own) but good (To halt the wheel in it's endless spinning, hold twilight until dawn)

The title track starts up very interestingly. The spooky rhythm on which the song builds up in some way sounds like Queen's We Will Rock You, but the arrangement is very solemn in this song. The symphonic arrangement works pretty well. I like the lyrics here but sort of at a lost now about the concept.

The final track starts up heavy, Yummy organ solo here sounds more John Lord than Wakeman. What finale to this terrific album.

I would easily call this essential but I think there are some small problems that prevent me calling this an absolute masterpiece of progressive music. However, if you are a prog fan, it will be excellent to add this to your collection. 4.5 stars.

Report this review (#468723)
Posted Friday, June 24, 2011 | Review Permalink
Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars With spruced-up production compared to the earlier Sacrament, White Willow's Storm Seasons finds them once again adding a generous dose of Pink Floyd to their sound, to the point where the prog folk sound that characterised their earlier works has more or less disappeared. But when you're looking at decent quality symphonic prog like this, I'm willing to overlook it. Though the album has an impressively chilly and evocative atmosphere, occasionally it ends up feeling just damp and glum like the cover art, but on the whole it's a good effort at branching out into melodic symphonic rock which will satisfy most fans of the band.
Report this review (#673036)
Posted Wednesday, March 21, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars The name of the White Willow is closely linked to that of groups such as Anglagard and Anekdoten, when the Norwegian group gave his fundamental contribution to the birth of this extraordinary season (for the progressive rock) that have been the beginning of the nineties .

Now in its fourth album , the White Willow impose a significant change of direction in their sound , without denying their roots folk rock and progressive , but grafting on this solid foundation elements that might make it desirable Storm Season, even to lovers of other genres .The guitars are much heavier than in the past and doom for the entire album and the atmosphere is very gothic and decadent (and not just for the cover ... )

This is mainly due to the guitarist Jacob Holm - Lupo , author of almost all the music of this album and excellent musician , capable of alternating along the seven lengthy tracks of this work relaxed atmosphere in pure gothic rock , classic arrangements , and explicit references and progressive folk , thanks to the important part that they Mellotron , Hammond and mini- moog within the work . A job for fascinating and varied , just to prove the absolute value of Scandinavian prog!!!

Report this review (#1073281)
Posted Wednesday, November 6, 2013 | Review Permalink

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