Written by Valkyrjiaa
Winterage – Nekyia
> Symphonic power metal
> Released July 7
> Scarlet Records
Bringing cinema-level entertainment straight to your ear holes, Winterage return with their latest cinematic masterpiece – Nekyia. With epicness, glory, and tension cranked to the max, Winterage takes inspirations from Two Steps from Hell and high-octane opera deep into their soul to bring us a legendary performance unlike we’ve ever heard. With the roots of heavy metal still intact, Winterage erupts with dramatic flair and star-shattering strength that’s sure to have your heart pounding and your ears begging for more.
The very moment that “Apertio ad Profundum” begins we are taken onto the battlefield. Reminiscent of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace and its terrifying “Duel of the Fates” track that immediately captivated audiences, the feel and fear that Winterage brings is hair-raising. With enormous orchestral presence and breath-taking tension, this opener spirals into a dream world of mystery and fantasy far beyond what the mind can conjure.
Leading in from the heat of battle renewed is “Simurgh the Firebird”, with a delicate balance of instrumentals from fiery guitars to sharp-stringed violin. It’s an explosive display of well-balanced artistry with creative nods in the contrasting and twisting musical chords that turn from gentle caressing hands to twisted knife in hand. With descending horror and a carnival back-tune to soaring riffs that embrace wings aflame, this track alone takes every curve and turn at full speed, letting risk embrace reward and it pays off in a dynamic performance of story and song.
“The Cult of Hecate” takes us down to the steps of the underworld with feverish blast beats and foreboding choir. “Beauty of wild nature / terrifying as death / fairness of them both” brings the verse of balance to the realism of Hecate’s tale. An all-too captivating chorus, with chimes and mystifying melody embrace the imbalance of Hecate’s feelings toward her fate with quick shifting madness descending into grief and rage. This is perfectly intertwined with terrorizing riff work and becomes a stunning track with a barrage of speed from relentless drumbeats, to vein-popping guitars and mesmerizing orchestration. It’s praise, worship, fear, and delight wrapped with a delicate glistening bow and delivered on skeletal horseback.
Musically, the fourth track, “Numen”, is simply gorgeous. It basks in silver moonlight, graced by the kiss of a gentle breeze and bound by steadfast drumming in a sense of untainted haste. Storytelling goes full tilt with a beautiful and vivid tale of sanctuary and escape through the embrace of shadow and forest. The transition from heavy guitar to bard and tavern-like folk tune at around the three-minute mark is phenomenal. It fully encapsulates the story’s feel and atmosphere by utilizing the light-hearted instrumentals before plundering back into full metal. Easily one of my favourites for the music alone, it is only amplified by the story upon its back and is a track definitely worth multiple playbacks.
The title track “Nekyia” fauns over ritual and darkness with an equally blackened melody. It takes atmospheric lessons from Two Steps from Hell to build a viewpoint that positions you at the very gates of hell. Cinema-level orchestration comes tenfold as if marched in on the backs of a hell-risen army, cited by Latin choir to add that much more tension. Not shying away from the metal, this track offers up a balanced breakfast of both wicked riff work and menacing orchestration that forebode and foretell of death, darkness, horror, and pain. Of course, a title track isn’t without some tells like a bombshell solo and wild drums that never seem to yield. It’s a wild track from start to finish and one to play for all your neighbours to hear.
We spiral further into this fantastical world, only to be met by the “White Leviathan”. A familiar tale with a new telling, “Only the white whale can sink into the depth / then rise again to fight the men” rides in on violin plucks and perfect strings. On ode to the towering white, the menace of waves, and the tidal tormentor, this song brings in a melody of both vengeance and sorrow, to mourn what was lost but forever clutching the memory with gritted teeth. It’s a timeless dance destined for doom, time and time again but is done so by Winterage in a way that’s catchy and all too wondrous not to sing along to. In the end Winterage reminds us that the leviathan is a monster we created thus can never defeat. The earth existed before and will exist long after we are gone, so is the battle truly worth our relentlessness?
“Metamorphosis, a Macabre Ritual” once more amplifies tension through a complex performance of frightening orchestration and choir. It’s lyrically simple yet quite expressive in its story to change, to embrace the metamorphosis as depicted through darkened instrumentals and intricate pauses. Drums echo out like a strange enchantment, tuned to the cries of opera highs, slowly sinking into chimes and sharp violin quips that elude to both greatness and demise. It’s an interesting track to say the very least, with an expansive number of instruments seeing full exposure as we move through one’s mind of twisted madness to the final form – evolution. I adore the transitions, from insane to cute and soft, before being thrust into the distortion of an unwilling shift, altered by cosmic force. While each track has its own unique qualities, this one certainly boasts its reputation as not only curious but unparalleled in nature.
To conclude our journey, comes the reflection of “Apertio ad Profundum” in “Resurrectio ad Mundum” – the resurrection of our world. It’s tragic and exquisite, so beautifully crated in its way to fully express the depths of emotion felt from sadness and regret, a faltering memory of snow and ash, to the clearing skies of relief and hope. A brilliant closer to an insanely stunning composition.
THE BOTTOM LINE
To bring it all together, this was not at all what I expected from Winterage’s Nekyia. I went in expecting the stories of Avantasia with the majesty of Rhapsody of Fire only to be met by a fantasy entirely unique to this genre. Blending classical tone and inspiration with the flaming expression of Thomas Bergersen and Two Steps from Hell, Winterage finely crafted a masterpiece with explosive elements from metal prowess, to cinema-level imagery, and perfectly executed storytelling. It touched on every flavor I have come to enjoy from beautiful stories to fiery solos and full instrumental dynamics. This, my friends, is not an album to skip out on. And for my fellow power metal fans, this is one to put on repeat for every campaign, car ride, or game night for years to come.