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Northwinds - Masters of Magic CD (album) cover



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4 stars 4.5 It's always been something special to me when you find a band that is virtually unknown in the large world of underground music. It's like having your own secret place; a place deep in your mind that you can hold onto. That's what it was like for me when I found the band NORTHWINDS. Their music creates an extremely special place in the deepest parts of my mind.

This was the second album I heard from them, the first being "The Great God Pan", and I must say that it took a few intricate listens to really sink in. It's not that the music is overly complex though, that isn't what NORTHWINDS is about at all. It's the thick ethereal sound that they create full of strange, yet extremely lyrical melodies; it's the riff that is sometimes so long you don't quite comprehend it upon the first listen and the magnificantly unique tone among other things that makes this album worthy of several listens just for full comprehesion.

The music of NORTHWINDS is instantly recognizable as influenced heavily Doom Metal bands such as the might BLACK SABBATH, SAINT VITUS, WITCHFINDER GENERAL, and PENTAGRAM. But NORTHWINDS has something that these bands never really had, and I'm pretty certain it's nothing that can be's something completely new. This album is a definite progression from "The Great God Pan" and exhibits this new unnatural sound where as the first album was mainly complex doom with progressive and folk elements.

The vocals of Vincent and Sylvain on this album are haunting and beautiful. It is rather impossible to tell them apart, but at times you can hear them both singing and tell when they trade off (I have noticed that one of them has a slightly thicker accent). That brings up another topic...they sing with an incredible French accent that makes the music so much more exotic and interesting to listen to. The guitar work on the album is nothing impressive, but it is so important and perfect for what they are trying to accomplish. The distorted guitars are among the warmest and thickest tones I have ever heard. The guitar riffs are also unlike any others that I've ever heard; creative and imaginative beyond belief. There is also great keyboard work that thickens the sound even more. Most important are the melodies of NORTHWINDS. They are exotic, lyrical, and among the most beautiful I've ever heard...especially in the epic song Entre Chien et Loup.

There are so many other areas I could touch on when reviewing this album...the arrangements, the orchestration, use of ambience, unique harmony...the list goes on, but I want you to listen for these things and not let me ruin them for you. There is actually only one flaw I have come across in this album...and it took several listens and quite a developed ear to find. Dynamics. This is especially true on the track Over the Mountain. Between clean passages and heavier passages they is little if any dynamic diversity at times. Again...this is minor, but for me it does take a little away. The whole album isn't plagued by this, but most places could use more delicate attention to dynamics.

I will end this review on a positive not and say again that this is one of the most creative albums I have ever come across...the sound NORTHWINDS achieves is just one of pure uniqueness. Pyschedelic, Heavy, Progressive, Beautiful, Mournful, Imaginative...this is NORTHWINDS.

***NOTE***That main riff on Entre Chien et Loup...what a punch in the mouth...I love those ::drool::

Report this review (#41802)
Posted Saturday, August 6, 2005 | Review Permalink
kev rowland
Crossover Prog Team
3 stars The second album from Northwinds is unusual in the sense that both the first and last tracks do not feature the band themselves, but rather label-mates Death SS. Not having read the booklet or information at the time of the playing the CD for the first time, I thought that the introduction was going to be typical of the rest of the album. The atmospheric and emotive keyboards/vocals of "The Great Ancient" certainly do not give any indication of the music behind. Northwinds were formed in France in the early Nineties, but by my reckoning that was nearly twenty years to late for these guys.

Northwinds play doom on a grand scale, and to these sullied ears come across as a mix of Black Sabbath and Quartz. There is a lot of space within the album, and the band has a dreamy Seventies feel. They are not afraid to move away from the riffs to a much gentler and yet very intense style, with an organ that sounds as if started life many years ago.

There is certainly enough riffing to make this album appealing to Sab fans, but it is heavily tempered and the result is an album of class. It is sung mostly in English, although the sixteen minute epic "Entre Chien Loup" is in French

Originally appeared in Feedback #69, Aug 02

Report this review (#978039)
Posted Friday, June 14, 2013 | Review Permalink

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