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Winter Crescent - "Battle Of Egos" (CD)

Winter Crescent - "Battle Of Egos" CD cover image

"Battle Of Egos" track listing:

1. Battle Of Egos Intro
2. Battle Of Egos Part I
3. Battle Of Egos Part II
4. Furrow
5. My Last Will
6. Winter Crescent
7. Lost In Dreams

Reviewed by on September 14, 2009

"The guitar work by Alexis Kristakis and Nikos Trialonis on the opener, 'Battle Of Egos Intro,' had a feel to it that just screamed Greece or Italy to me (especially after I'd just listened to a CD of Italian dinner music)."

One of the greatest things about metal is its ability to be transformed in ways relevant to the unique culture of the artist. Hence southerner Brent Hinds can successfully bring the banjo to Mastodon's "Crack The Skye" album; Sepultura can introduce Brazilian percussion and rhythm to "Refuse/Resist," and Anthrax can create a fusion of metal and the hip-hop sounds heard on a New York City street corner. All of that can be done without sacrificing the form's inherent heaviness.

In the case of Winter Crescent's "Battle Of Egos," which I played without glancing at the biographical information on the band, it was immediately obvious to me through the rhythms and guitar style, that these guys were Mediterranean. The guitar work by Alexis Kristakis and Nikos Trialonis on the opener, "Battle Of Egos Intro," had a feel to it that just screamed Greece or Italy to me (especially after I'd just listened to a CD of Italian dinner music). There's a certain cleanliness of sound, with single-note picking that is present in much of the music of the Mediterranean.

As "Battle Of Egos Part I" begins, those clean guitars give way to a bruising heaviness, courtesy of a splendidly stuttering riff, punctuated with harmonic squeals, above which soar Nikos Spyridakis' vocals. A guitar break in the middle marries Mediterranean rhythms with electric guitar to splendid effect.

"Battle Of Egos Part II" continues the struggle in excellent fashion, though Spyridakis' vocals begin to feel a little repetitive. Still, this track shows off Giorgos Ktistakis' drumming well. It also shows that these Greek prog-rockers know a thing or two about how to mesh songs together to form a cycle, as elements of "Intro" are woven back in.

The album loses a little momentum after the "Battle Of Egos" trilogy ends. "Furrow" feels disjointed, with the main riff seemingly collapsing into drum fills every few seconds. "My Last Will" has some interesting turns into lighter territory in the middle, but never really takes off.

The disc regains some ground with "Winter Crescent," which has some cool time changes and is driven by a simple but effective riff. "Winter Crescent" bleeds right into the closer "Lost In Dreams," which is driven by a similar riff, until it shifts gears into an appropriately dreamy bit of clean guitar. I have to compliment bassist Thanos Sgouridis for his playing in this part, which has a bouncy quality that works exceptionally well with Ktistakis' more restrained drumming.

All in all, this self-released demo from Winter Crescent is a pleasing prog-rock experience. I have a few quibbles with some of the decisions the band makes, which include some moments when Ktistakis seems to be playing a different song than the rest of the band (check out parts of "Lost In Dreams" and "My Last Will" to see what I mean). Also, Syridakis' vocals, though always more than competent, are a bit repetitive in places.

Still, "Battle Of Egos" is good enough that I find myself hoping Winter Crescent succeeds in finding the "decent record deal" that their bio says they're looking for.

Highs: The three-song "Battle Of Egos" cycle blends Mediterranean and metal styles in splendid fashion.

Lows: "Furrow" and "My Last Will" are both a bit disjointed.

Bottom line: A good demo that marries progressive metal and Mediterranean sounds well.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)