Reviews: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Terry Friesen - Windchill Factor
Musical Style: Hard Rock Produced By: Trevor Friesen
Record Label: Independent Country Of Origin: Canada
Year Released: 2016 Artist Website: Trevor Friesen
Tracks: 8 Rating: 80%
Running Time: 38:58

Terry Friesen - Windchill Factor

Windchill Factor, the January of 2016 fifth-full length solo album of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan vocalist and guitarist Terry Friesen, has a lot to be proud of.  It’s based upon a foundation of blues driven straightforward hard rock with periodic forays into acoustic rock, funk and groove and instrumental neo-classical metal.  It features the artist’s distinctive deep and somber (almost Gothic tinged) middle register vocal flavorings, while emphasizing equally his tightly riff driven rhythm guitar penchant and soloing that ranges from the boisterous to the melodic to the bluesy.  Finally, it highlights his faith-based lyrics that are certain to encourage and inspire.

Many will recognize Friesen from his work with California based brother Trevor (drums) in Sombre Holiday, a project staying true to its namesake with a “melancholic metal and hard rock sound not unlike mid-period Deliverance but merged with a strong slant towards Gothic influenced Saviour Machine progressiveness” (as taken from the 85% Angelic Warlord review of the groups most recent 2014 release An Hour Of Light).  Debut Sombre Holiday full length In Search Of Understanding… (2009) and sophomore effort Four Shadows (2012) followed a similar musical heading as a two disc concept series drawing upon the Book of Proverbs in “weaving a story of one mans struggle to choose between lady wisdom and lady folly.”

Album starts to four at times bluesy and others groove laden hard rockers that fly in the face of the more intricate and technically richer sounds to Sombre Holiday.  Accept this is observation as opposed to critique in that the straightforward verse-chorus-verse environs at hand helps Windchill Factor - a title I am willing to guess draws from the artists frigid Canadian clime - carve out its own sense of identity (and stand out that much further as a result) when placed alongside Sombre Holiday.

Opener “Feel Like Winning” proves a quintessential hard rocker in this capacity, with barbed guitar riffs and up-tempo momentum compelling its length as Trevor decorates the backdrop with cowbell and intense drum rolls and fills.  Booming bass starts an instrumental section in which Terry exhibits his smoldering lead guitar abilities.  This one would fit in on any early to mid-period Rez Band album.

“Gone Again” maintains the up-tempo disposition in upping heaviness overall.  Driven front to back by presiding guitar walls and unflagging bass, the song makes a predominate statement with its all out intense aggression and showy class overall.  I particularly enjoy the acoustic guitar that tastefully decorates the instrumental moments and contrasts with the unfaltering scene in the process.

“Thirsty” also plays up the unflagging from delivering big doses of low-end groove in similar fashion as nineties era Bride.  The song starts to acoustic guitar before funky guitars kick in, upholding a decided mid-paced edge (in comparison to the previous two) with another influential bass line and the fearless soloing to match.  The stunning “drink the water that I gave you, you wont’ be thirsty anymore” refrain ranks with the albums best.

“Underdog” represents another heavy hitter.  Metal laced guitars drive impetus forward from the start, with disposition anthem-like in terms of the keyed up rhythm section but equally ascendant when factoring the too the point and curly done surrounding.  Chorus drives in biting fashion as lively guitars play a churning role.  What “Underdog” (and the first three) reinforces is how vocally the artist can align with a hard rocking setting every bit as a Gothic progressive based one.

“Your Eyes (I Know)” starts the albums mellower and more laid-back section.  The song comes across in the form of a melodic hard rock ballad, slowly drifting its first minute acoustically until crisp rhythm guitars cut in and set an even tone for the heartfelt verses and every bit easy going and histrionic refrain that ensues.  Fans of eighties ballads will be drawn to this one despite it coming across somewhat formula (but good all the same).

“It’s Okay” maintains the relaxed precedence with its lush (almost U2 influenced) guitars and bluesy essence.  A fitting atmospheric ambience prevails, with overall feel casual and nonchalant from the artists brooding (in a positive sense) vocals flavorings and vocal melodies that hint of the lamentable.  Lone downside is that momentums drags a bit due to the six minute length, but the composed if not worshipful focus ultimately puts things over the top.

“Last Word” trends the album towards its final experiments and outside the box phase.  What we have here is a full on funk driven fusion hard rocker, as reverberant bass (that sets a fitting undulating tone) and surging guitars (with a full on grooving flair) point to the infectious and high energy inclining at hand.  Bristling leads adorn front to back a song that walks a satisfying fine line between prime King’s X and LoveWar.

Windchill Factor closes to its most inspired piece “Winter”, which was originally composed by Antonio Vivaldi in the 1700’s and adopted to ‘metal guitar’ by Friesen in 2014.  The song breaks down to three neo-classical guitar inspired ‘parts”.

The first, at three and a half minutes, unleashes unremitting aggression to explosive guitars (that range from classical to thrash-like) and vigorous drums as leads blaze away without remorse.  Part two, shorter at two and a half minutes, emotionally tempers initiative to a calm drifting of violin and placid guitars, while the four minute third ups the intensity as barrages of bombastic riffs and rash leads trade off with tight melodies and classical guitar lacings.  It might be too early to use the “song of the year” designation, but this is certain to be a viable contender from the inventiveness at hand.

Production is crisp and clean but slightly raw.  Guitars tower above the mix and leads and bass evenly stand out, albeit a touch of polish would prove beneficial either way.  Packaging works with the winter landscape artwork aligning with the Windchill Factor title, but it can be difficult to read lyrics and liner notes in a white font over a gray background.

Windchill Factor might not be concept album, but there is a unifying them to its lyrics.  The artist goes into further detail:

“Sometimes life is tough... I wish I could give a more complete answer to the problems we experience in this life, but I think we can all agree, there are a lot of unexplained mysteries for us. Some things we'll never know, but there is hope as we trust that God is bigger, and understands more fully the reasons for the struggles we face. Hang in there, stay COOL, hand over your anxieties to God and allow his peace to comfort you. "Come to me all who are weary and heavily burdened, and I will give you rest..." (Jesus).”

“Feel Like Winning” deals with persevering through those struggles:

We expect a little rain
Where there’s joy, there’ll be pain
But sometimes life’s so hard
It leaves a little stain
And the scars of life remain

Is this the end or the beginning?
Is this a war that we’ve been in?
Is this the end or the beginning?
When will it feel like we’re winning?

“Thirsty” builds upon a similar theme:

Drink the water that I give you
It’ll bring you life forevermore
I see the road that you’ve been travelling
So if you’re thirsty come and
Drink the water that I give you
You won’t be thirsty anymore
I see the load that you’ve been carrying
So if you’re thirsty come and drink

“It’s Okay” delivers a comforting message:

We try to comfort the best that we can
What can we say when we don’t understand

When it rains it changes everything
No one knows
What the wind will bring

We wonder if it’s all part of the plan
What can we say when we don’t understand

My favorite is “The Last Word”, which talks of not losing a friendship for the sake of an argument:

I could be wrong, but I know that I’m right
The only problem is my pride
It’s okay to disagree
As long as you agree with me

I know that you have your opinion
And that’s just fine
But could you change your opinion
To be more like mine

I appreciate how Windchill Factor allows Terry Friesen to branch out and explore musical territory outside the Gothic to progressive metal framework to Sombre Holiday.  The album showcases his musical experience accordingly, with strong vocal, bass and guitar performances (he proves quite underrated in terms of the latter) and provides for a true band effort when factoring contributions of brother Trevor on drums.  A strongly recommended release for those into any of the genres represented.

Review by Andrew Rockwell

Track Listing: “Feel Like Winning” (3:08), “Gone Again” (3:19), “Thirsty” (3:53), “Underdog” (3:52), “Your Eyes (I Know)” (3:50), “It’s Okay” (6:04), “The Last Word” (5:01), “Winter: Part 1” (3:39), “Winter: Part 2” (2:20), “Winter: Part 3” (3:44)

Terry Friesen - Lead Vocals & Guitars
Trevor Friesen - Drums


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