Bane Of Winterstorm – The Last Sons Of Perylin
Bane Of Winterstorm – The Last Sons Of Perylin (2013)
Reviewed by Daniel Millard
Well well, we’ve been hearing about Bane Of Winterstorm for the last several months, and at long last the album has arrived. The latest in a charge of fresh new power metal from Down Under, this five piece from Melbourne boasts an impressive set of guest vocalists – most prominently Jonas Heidgert of Dragonland fame, Silvio Massaro of proggy countrymen Vanishing Point, and of course, darling Lord Tim himself.
This is an interesting album, most assuredly, and quite competent, but we must be very careful in our advertisement and description: there are some things that The Last Sons Of Perylin definitely is not. While it is heavy and occasionally rather aggressive, it is not a guitar-driven album, and those who base their listening habits on interesting riffing alone would do well to look elsewhere. It’s also a reasonably accessible album, but as a concept album with multifaceted, long-winded tracks (a total of five that come out at a whopping 46 minutes) and a great deal of narrative-focused singing, it’s best heard as a complete work from end-to-end, preferably with lyrics booklet in hand.
Having such an album can cause some concerns right away. Results with this kind of deeply committed storytelling approach can vary from superb (Dragonland, Lorenguard) to rather poor (early Kaledon, Heralds Of The Sword). This year has seen a couple of successes already within the fantasy camp, namely debuts from Evertale and Lucid Dreaming (though I admit that the latter is somewhat personal for me), and I’m happy to say that Bane Of Winterstorm places its ironshod boot decisively into this territory. Despite appearing to work against itself somewhat in pure track length and near-necessity for lyrics, The Last Sons Of Perylin is striking, powerful, and vast.
The album manages to feel neither too short nor too long to my ears. This is somewhat exceptional on both counts, alternatively weighing the small number of tracks against their long respective run times. Chugging guitar lines, prominently positioned drumwork, and large amounts of sweeping, grandiose keyboard lock the songs in at a rather immutable moderate pace. If there’s one thing this album fails at to a degree, it’s tempo variation across its songs. Luckily, the band has a considerable pool of vocal talent to tap, and does so consistently. The only time that I’m not grateful for this is some of the rougher, unrefined shouting that occurs from time to time. I suspect that this is in character for the story, but I still find it somewhat jarring. Opener “The Black Wind Of Morthion” and the sprawling eponymous closer (which together last nearly 27 minutes – over half the album) are the melodic focal points, and particularly showcase the band’s success in arriving at their presumed overall goal: dramatic narrative with enough heaviness to qualify fully as a work of metal. The Last Sons Of Perylin is truly “epic” in scope and scale, unlike most other symphonic power metal bands using the descriptor these days. That word has lost its power, but it is rather applicable here.
If you ask me, albums like this and Lucid Dreaming’s The Chronicles, Part I are something rather niche. They’re not really your typical power metal experience, and are more along the lines of a fantasy novel set to metal. How do these differ from other band works that I’ve called out? Well, the specific casting of guest vocalists for particular characters, for one. What about Dragonland’s Under The Grey Banner? Well, this comparison has some merit, but even that album is only Heidgert and one guest, and focuses upon individual chapters and feelings rather than the vast, flowing scope explored within single tracks by Bane Of Winterstorm. Lorenguard’s Eve Of Corruption may be nearer the mark, but it’s still quite clearly divided into highly distinct individual songs, instead of Bane’s longer, narrative approach. Where am I going with this? Well, I suppose I’m suggesting that we may be witnessing the emergence of a new trend in power metal: a twist on the old Symphony Of Enchanted Lands formula, where music was first, and story a rather distant second. For Bane Of Winterstorm, the two are of equal import.
Gone are the days when Arno and I used to fantasize about “another mature fantasy power metal concept album”. Nowadays, it seems that they’re cropping up everywhere that I look. It’s a testament to how power metal has matured over the years (and to the magical power of the internet) that an album like The Last Sons Of Perylin can come as a debut from halfway around the world and wow us with a well-concocted epic that is both undeniably talented and a wholehearted embodiment of the fantasy side of the genre.
4.0 // 5