|Musical Style: Melodic Metal||Produced By: Wingdom|
|Record Label: The A Label||Country Of Origin: Finland|
|Year Released: 2005||Artist Website:|
|Tracks: 10||Rating: 90%|
|Running Time: 57:00|
When discussing the best Christian metal bands to come out of Finland in recent years, the first names that come to mind usually include Hallowed, Random Eyes, Venia and Oratorio. One band that deserves to be mentioned with the countries very best, however, is Wingdom. Playing a catchy blend of power metal and melodic metal with occasional progressive tendencies on its full length The A Label debut Reality, Wingdom showcases the well crafted songwriting of keyboardist Mikko Harkin. Harkin got his start in Sonata Arctica, debuting with the band on its 2000 EP Successor before performing on its 2001 full length effort Silence in addition to the 2002 live album Songs Of Silence. Departing Sonata Arctica and joining both Random Eyes and Wingdom, Harkin proves quite the talented musician, his keyboard work adds just the right amount of texture to the bands sound without coming across overbearing. Joining Harkin on lead vocals is Sami Asp who contributes a very fine clean sounding but at times slightly gritty classic tenor vocal style. The resounding bass lines of Alessandro Lotta (Rhapsody) forms a perfect union with the precise drumming of Markus Niemispelto (Random Eyes). While Jukka Ruotsalainen proves another top notch talent with his fluid and at times bluesy lead guitar work, I wish he would have chosen to cut loose a bit more throughout the album. As a matter of fact, the only constructive comment I have to offer is that Wingdom could have displayed a bit more confidence in its instrumental sound; nevertheless, this is only a minor matter and in no way detracts from the albums appeal.
Reality features a crystal clear and polished production job that literally breathes life. I love how the bass guitar rises above the mix in a full and pronounced sounding manner, while the drums come across with just the right amount of punch and projection. A crisp rhythm guitar sound stands alongside a near perfect blend of lead guitar and keyboards.
Album opener "Time" gradually fades in to several seconds of beeping and a bit of distortion before progressing through its first verse at an upbeat tempo. Tapering off upon reaching its bridge, "Time" abruptly culminates as the rhythm guitar arrives at the front of the mix to drive an energy-laden hook filled chorus. "Time" points to the person of Christ:
It was the sacrifice
Of Your Son that made us one again
He paid the price
With His act He beat the enemy
He broke the chains
By His blood He redeemed us all
After an exquisite blend of piano and crunchy rhythm guitar introduces "Where Do We Go", the piano drops from the mix as the song reaches its first verse. The rhythm guitar remains a strong and steady presence as "Where Do We Go" transitions to a sweeping chorus carried at a slower and more laid back tempo. Markus Niemispelto's technical drumming really stands out on this track.
"Marionette" begins in an upbeat manner prior to the rhythm guitar dropping from the mix as the song attains its first verse. Once the rhythm guitar returns hard and heavy, it leads the way to a strong chorus fortified by Sami Asp’s smooth sounding vocal delivery. Ruotsalainen accentuates the atmosphere with several seconds of bluesy work on lead guitar.
A blend of piano and keyboards propels "A Sigh Of Despair" through its first verse before the rhythm guitar enters the mix at the start of the second. As the song gradually builds in momentum, it moves on to a chorus bolstered by a driving guitar riff and a growling death metal-like voice. An instrumental passage featuring just a keyboard solo, on the other hand, is to be found wanting.
The keyboards initiating "The Essence" are soon joined by a crisp sounding rhythm guitar to help take the song through its first thirty seconds. Slowing upon reaching its first verse, "The Essence" proceeds at a stylish mid-tempo pace until it culminates for a commercial flavored chorus backed by a touch of vocal harmonies. "The Essence" talks about the completeness that can be found in Christ:
You're there beside me
Even when I feel alone
Somehow it seems brighter
As You give a reason to go on
The life without You never filled the void in me
I couldn't be the one to make my life complete
Advancing through its first and second verse to an immaculate blend of bass guitar and keyboards, the semi-ballad "Everybody" peaks upon attaining an emotionally charged chorus reinforced by just the right amount of crisp rhythm guitar. Ruotsalainen tops things off with several seconds of the albums best bluesy lead guitar work. Lotta, at the same time, anchors the song with a resounding bass line that comes across near mesmerizing in feel.
An anthem-like amalgamation of rhythm guitar, keyboards and drums carries "Never Stop" forward from the start until it slows for its first verse as the rhythm guitar arrives at the front of the mix. Maintaining its guitar driven momentum, the song picks up in pace for a chorus energetically driven by Niemispelto's double bass. I like how "Never Stop" literally stops dead in its tracks for forty seconds of fluid lead guitar work.
A keyboard solo opens "Tomorrow" before the rhythm guitar kicks in and joins with a well placed bass line at the start of its first verse. Picking up in pace, "Tomorrow" evenly advances on a spirited chorus that gradually builds until it peaks with a plethora of hard hitting energy. Ruotsalainen once again showcases his talent with several seconds of fiery lead guitar work.
Getting underway to a brief drum solo, "Lighthouse" moves through its first verse to a near perfect mix of rhythm guitar and keyboards. Slowing at the start of its pre-chorus, "Lighthouse" picks up in pace for a catchy chorus focusing on God's faithfulness:
Far away I can see the lighthouse shining
So far away I feel that I have drifted
But I know, there's no place on earth where You wouldn't find me
No such darkness where Your light wouldn’t be shining
Over its last minute, "Lighthouse" fades out to an instrumental passage carried by a touch of lead guitar underscored by a steadfast bass line.
Reality closes with the complex twelve minute epic "Lighthouse Pt 2". Keyboards carry the song through its first verse before it suddenly picks up in pace as the rhythm guitar steps forward and underlines a superlative epic flavored chorus. As "Lighthouse Pt 2" slows for its second verse, keyboards again play a prominent role in the mix as the scene focuses on the person of Christ:
I long, long for the Light
I once saw in my life
In a form of a man
Dressed all in white
With the scars in His hands
To the cross
The guitar solo that follows gives way to a piano as the song again tapers off to a near crawl upon reaching its third verse. Following a minute long keyboard based instrumental passage, "Lighthouse Pt 2" gains impetus as it once again points to the One true Light:
Your Light hasn't faded
You can make me new
Let me rest in You
You're my shelter and refuge
You're the only Truth that the world needs to know
You're the Lighthouse shining in the dark
The final four minutes of "Lighthouse Pt 2" comes across in the form of a semi-ballad as a piano helps slowly carry the song through its final three verses.
The strength of Reality resides in its remarkable consistency, Harkin's songwriting such that each of the albums ten compositions easily holds up under repeated play. A refined production job and the bands solid musicianship only enhance the value of what is one of the finest releases of 2005. In the end, Reality proves an album that the more I listen to the more I enjoy. Highly recommended.
Review by: Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “Time” (5:14), “Where Do We Go?” (4:35), “Marionette” (3:47), “A Sigh Of Despair” (5:14), “The Essence” (5:32), “Everyday” (5:01), “Never Stop” (5:37), “Tomorrow” (4:23), “Lighthouse” (6:17), “Lighthouse Part 2” (12:31)
Sami Asp – Lead Vocals
Jukka Ruotsalainen – Guitars
Mikko Harkin – Keyboards
Alessandro Lotta – Bass
Markus Niemispelto – Drums
Jaan Wessman – Bass & Percussion
Also Reviewed: Mehida - Blood & Water