Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Class of 2012: Windfaerer - Solar

A violinist in a metal band sounds like a bad idea, but the band Windfaerer pulls it off brilliantly.  Although clearly influenced by black metal, this is by no means a traditional black metal album.  In addition to black metal, you'll also hear elements of melodic death metal and folk metal.

While the band considers Solar to be an EP, its seven songs in just over 35 minutes is the perfect amount.  Opening track "The Mortal Flare" is an instrumental that doesn't reveal too much but makes you want to hear more.  This is followed by the rather uplifting "A Glimpse of Light," a black metal song at its core that feels victorious instead of bleak and dark.

"Worlds of the Self" brings the aforementioned violin into the mix.  There's a sweet breakdown with just vocals, drums, and bass around the three-minute mark that's one of my favorite moments on the record.

Windfaerer's sound is fully realized on "Blackened Voids."  As on much of the album, the violin at times takes the place of the lead guitar and its solos.  Another essential moment occurs at about the four-minute mark.  The music stops, and you're left with just an acoustic guitar that is then joined by the violin.  The rest of the music kicks back in and the song lifts off to another dimension.

The acoustic instrumental "A Moura Encantada" comes next and lasts under two minutes.  It's a calm and peaceful respite that doesn't overstay its welcome.  The punishing "In the Shadow of Giants" ruptures the tranquility and gets better with each listen.  The album closes with "The Morning Star" by rising up, slowing down, and then floating back to Earth.

Solar is a unique and intriguing record that shines through the dark clouds of black metal without using the violin as a gimmick or novelty.  In fact, at times you won't even realize that the lead guitar is actually a violin.

Grade: A  (94.7%)

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