Costa Ricans Wings of Destiny were last seen around these parts five or so years ago, when I featured their Kings of Terror album in my Crusade of Power column. I’m glad to say I was right in what I said about them back then, as they’ve gone from strength to strength and released three more albums in the intervening period. (That’s enough trumpet-blowing – Ed).
New album Memento Mori sees them continuing to tread a neat line between the prog leanings of, say, Angra and the more straightahead Euro power metal stylings of Tobi Sammet or Helloween. When they hit the bullseye, as they do on superb second track Death Wish, the music they make is easily as good as anyone you might think of as a ‘big name’ currently plying their trade in the power metal arena. Anton Darusso possesses a powerful, yet flexible set of pipes, bending with the music as required; he’s got the grit of Deris, he’s got the smooth Kiske-styled croons… he even throws in the odd death metal growl to make sure all the bases are covered. In short, he’s the band’s secret weapon.
That’s not to downplay the contributions of the other members, of course; on Holy Grail they come together as one to create some of the finest old-school neoclassical power metal you’ll hear all year. Andres Castro and Cristian Jimenez are a formidable guitar pairing, soaring high above the pounding rhythmic accompaniment of bassist Emil Minott and drummer Horacio Paris Kofoed like a pair of duelling birds of prey, but, like Darusso, their obvious skills are never allowed to morph into self-indulgence; no notes are sprayed around needlessly here, and everything is made to count in the service of great songs like Shadowland, which even manages to throw a little Paradise Lost-styled gothic doom into the mix.
Truly something for everyone in the power metal camp, then, but that said this is a pretty cohesive album that never sounds like it’s trying too hard to cover all the bases. These guys are masters of their art, and no mistake, and I’m glad to have reconnected with them again – even if my neck isn’t quite so happy!
Memento Mori releases today (July 23rd).