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Winter's Verge - "Beyond Vengeance" (CD)

Winter's Verge - "Beyond Vengeance" CD cover image

"Beyond Vengeance" track listing:

1. Cunning Lullabies (5:50)
2. Paper Is Blank (4:35)
3. Unto The Darkness (4:00)
4. Not Without A Fight (4:23)
5. Bleeding Heart (4:23)
6. Dying (5:12)
7. One Last Night (5:21)
8. Threads Of My Life (4:06)
9. Angels Of Babylon (3:17)
10. Semeni (6:35)
11. A Dream For A Dream (Bonus Track) (5:22)

Reviewed by on June 15, 2012

"...the band continues its growth trend with more fetching melodies, solidly crunchy guitar licks, and nicely arranged choruses and keyboard choirs."

"From the shadows...they appear, turn my dreams into nightmares...." only these are nightmares that I want to have! The stock of the power metal quintet from Cyprus continues to rise with the release of the fourth LP “Beyond Vengeance.” Musically, the band continues its growth trend with more fetching melodies, solidly crunchy guitar licks, and nicely arranged choruses and keyboard choirs. Fans of early Sonata Arctica and Stratovarius will thoroughly enjoy this album, as Winters’ Verge continues to progress, mature, and get so much better with each release.

The quality of the song writing and arrangements shine on tracks like “Bleeding Heart,” “Threads of My Life,” and the ballad “One Last Night.” The binding agent throughout the album is the excellent key work of Stefano Psillides, who has a flair for the flash and elevates his game with this release, especially on the album’s best track “Dying” (he even employs a little bit of that female voice punch a la Nightwish). The solo work by guitarist Harry Pari is beautifully done, especially noted on songs like the highly memorable opener “Cunning Lullabies,” “Paper is Blank,” and the gorgeous “Semeni.”

Now onto my small gripes. The first is with the vocals of George Charalambous. At times throughout the album, I wished he wasn’t so shackled to the mid-upper range as it comes off a bit lifeless. There is no questioning that the ability is all there, but if he widened up a bit he could single-handedly elevate the band to another stratosphere. His low range is great (see “Dream For a Dream” and “One Last Night”), the occasional high pitched screams are well done, and I even enjoyed the cool whispering pseudo-death style. Charalambous is not a bad singer by any stretch, but when compared to others in the genre he doesn’t pack the same punch like Timo Kotipelto or Tony Kakko. There is no question he can sing and that certainly shows on songs like “Angels of Babylon.”

My second small gripe is the production. In the span of Winter’s Verge albums, previous release “Tales of Tragedy” has the best overall clarity of sound by far. The instant release is a little muddy and the drums sound much like band’s second release “Eternal Damnation.” This has absolutely nothing to do with musicianship or quality of the performance, which is top notch.

It’s clear that Winter’s Verge continues to elevate the style of power/progressive metal and “Beyond Vengeance” should garner serious interest from fans of the genre. The Cyprus metal scene is a small, but vibrant, one and this quintet has all the tools to break free and make its stake its claim on the worldwide scene.

Highs: Well written, arranged, and delivered. The guitar and key work is brilliant.

Lows: Production is a little muddy and vocals dwell in upper mid-range a bit too much.

Bottom line: The Cyprus metal scene is on the "Winter's Verge" of breaking loose.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 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)