When you take the kitchen sink approach to heavy metal – as Middle Eastern metallers Winterhorde do on their belting new effort, Neptunian – it’s almost always impossible to get the balance between the various disparate, naturally-warring elements correct. I often avoid bands labelling themselves ‘symphonic extreme metal’ for precisely this reason. Cacophonic ranting? No thanks.
And that, perhaps most of all, is what makes Neptunian such an enjoyable listen. All over the album Winterhorde get the balance right, spectacularly so on tracks like Alone In The Ocean which, rather than just battering the listener into submission take them on a journey of wonder and delight. Many bands have tried, but few have succeeded in successfully welding the bucolic, winsome reverie of Syd-era Floyd to a superstructure of pure steel quite so well as Winterhorde do here. And I mean that in the most complimentary of ways…
Obviously it takes buckets of talent to operate at this level, and, without ever partaking in gratuitous showboating, the band remind you time and again just how good they are. The moment during The Garden where a full-on assault stops on a dime for a moment is pure theatre, but it takes a tight band to pull it off (even in a studio) and luckily all seven (!) members are on top of their vocal and instrumental game throughout.
Beyond that, there isn’t much to say about Neptunian without descending into mindless hyperbole. Fans of ‘widdly’ prog metal are going to love it, natch, but seriously, if it’s just the ‘heft’ – both emotional and aural – of straight up metal that gets your motor running then there’s more than enough of that to make this a record worthy of inspection. And, let’s face it, who doesn’t like a win-win situation?
Neptunian is out now through Noble Demon.