Metalwings – A Whole New Land
Release Date: 11/06/2021
Running Time: 69:39
Review by Simon Black
This is the sophomore release from Bulgarian Gothic/Symphonic five piece Metalwings. It is a double first for me as both the first encounter I have had with them, as well as being the first band I have reviewed from Bulgaria. The band is the brainchild of Vocalist, Electric Viola and Keyboard player Stela Atanasova, whose classical background and training stands out very loud and clear. Vocally her style is very much in that Classical and Operatic tradition, with the more extreme vocal notes coming from an uncredited member of the band. The downside is that vocally the extreme counterpoint is a little too far in the background and had it been a bit more on an equal footing, this would have felt more of a full on Metal album, rather than a very Classical album with a Metal vein running through it.
Ambitiously the band also utilises a full orchestra and conductor, rather than taking the Nightwish route of synthesising what they need, which really adds to the overall epic quality of the piece, but again this detracts from the heaviness, despite the fact that what’s going on with the traditional Metal instruments is fast, powerful and heavy as hell – it’s just taking a back seat to the orchestra and vocals. I’m not saying this is a bad thing – far from it, as for people like me that grew up on a classical diet before crossing into the dark side as a teenager, then this is musically absolutely ticking all of my boxes. But it took time to get to that viewpoint…
Brevity is not what this band are about. At nearly an hour and ten minutes of run time across the eleven tracks this is not a faint hearted ‘wham bam, thank you ma’am’ delivery in the slightest. The down side of the time taken though, is that this does lack immediacy and many listeners may struggle to continue focussing, which is why even the most complex Symphonic records work best with a couple of accessible hand-wavers to help engage the less-attentive or classically inclined.
The Symphonic and the Gothic work best when they take their time to build up layers of mood with sound and this bunch nail it perfectly. Equally they take time to unpick and appreciate, and a casual first pass listen is simply not going to do justice to the monumental technical and musical effort that has gone into the crafting of the album. I have to stress that, because when you are an independent & self-financing band, the costs of recording and producing “A Whole New Land” will not have been insignificant. I am curious to know how they will tour this, particularly outside of their home market, as taking more than five of them on the road will clearly be something of a challenge and some of the music will lose its sense of majesty if it’s delivered by the click of a switch live.
It’s long, it’s technically complex with superb musical depth, but needs a good three listens before you really start to appreciate the work that has gone into it. With a bit more balance of the accessible and immediate, then this would be top drawer stuff. That said, if the chance to fly to Bulgaria and watch them do the whole thing live with the full orchestra comes up, I will seize it with both hands.
‘Monster In The Mirror’ (Official Video)
01. A Whole New Land
02. Monster In The Mirror
03. Like A Willow Without Tears
04. I See Your Power
06. Still Believe In Us
07. Killer Of The Angel’s Love
08. Wonders Of Life
09. Passengers Between The Rails Of Life
10. Second Chance
11. Milo Moe Libe
Stela Atanasova – Operatic Vocals, Electric Viola, Keyboards
Grigor Kostadinov – Guitars
Vlad Enev – Bass
Angel Kitanov – Keyboards
Nikola “Blackie” Ivanov – Drums
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