Viento del Norte
Released: 2001, Goi Music
Reviewer: Night of the Realm
Spain has been producing more than a fair number good bands in the power metal field. Joining the ranks of bands such as Mago De Oz, Tierra Santa, and Dark Moor is Northwind with their debut album, VIENTO DEL NORTE.
Northwind, formed in 1998 by guitarist Tino Hevia, play symphonic power metal, but unlike their fellow countrymen, Northwind takes an approach more strongly rooted in classic/speed metal with incorporation of symphonic and neoclassical elements. All of the songs on VIENTO DEL NORTE are powerful guitar-driven tracks from straightforward power metal (“Paraiso De Sombras”), to neoclassical shred speed (“Retroceder Al Manana”). Throughout the album, one can hear the influences of bands such as Blind Guardian, Iron Maiden, and Running Wild as well as some bits of Rhapsody and the Italian scene (most notably through the neoclassical stylings).
I always enjoy when a band sings in their native language. All of Northwind’s lyrics are sung in Spanish, and although this makes translating somewhat problematic (I have forgotten most of the Spanish I learned in my five years of study), I find that it adds a rich element to the overall sound of the music. Txema’s voice rings clear, though I feel that he still needs some work in developing his skills of power and range.
Although every song on the album is equally good, “Lagrimas de Hielo” stands out as one of my favourites on the disc. The song starts out with a very medieval-ish passage before breaking into a full-on melodic speed metal, even reminding me of Running Wild in a few passages towards the end of the track. My other favourite is the album’s closer, “La Ultima Lucha,” with its speed-metal gallops, battle choirs, and epic horns of war. What a hell of a way to close the album!
VIENTO DEL NORTE is a strong debut for these Spaniards, though like any new band, a few slight problems exist. The first issue I have is with the production. While the mix is tolerable, Northwind would greatly benefit from a cleaned-up sound. Secondly, Txema’s vocals could use a small boost in terms of power and emotion. Almost certainly, confidence and experience will round out his style. Finally, I felt that some of the songs, especially on the second half of the disc, tended to sound the same and run together somewhat. Again, improved songwriting is almost guaranteed to come with additional experience.
In relation to other Spanish bands, Northwind stands poised to make a name for themselves at a top act in their home country. The band has musical skill sufficient to balance melody and heaviness, and fans of power metal, both of the neoclassical and of the speed-power variety should find Northwind to their liking. The band’s sophomore album, EL RETORNO DEL REY has already been released in 2002, though I have yet to acquire it.