Unless your taste in metal runs very deep, “Stonehymn”, Wind Rose’s third full length album, is unlike anything you’ve ever heard. Initially you might think of easy comparisons like Blind Guardian, Orden Ogan, or possibly Serenity, but the thick blend of symphonic metal, European and American folk music, and film soundtrack textures makes for a really unique listening experience.
“Stonehymn” is a loose concept album with material ranging from tales of the Middle Earth’s dwarves to stories about Native Americans and cowboys on the American frontier; with the common thread of each song being a sort of hymn sung by the stones which see all these events as they unfold over the centuries.
Musically, the base is Italian symphonic metal, but each track builds unique sounds on top of that basic scaffolding. Understanding the concept behind the album – hymns sung of epic stories from throughout time by the stones and mountains that witnessed them all – also helps put the music and vocals in perspective. Vocalist Francesco Cavalieri delivers a mountain of a vocal performance with deep layered vocals throughout the album; and the band, orchestral, and folk arrangements frequently evoke the imagery of rocky frontiers and mighty mountains.
Early in the album, you’ll hear sounds evoking the American “Old West,” and even some homage to soundtracks of classic spaghetti westerns. There’s a surprising amount of space in the compositions, and a lot of focus and spotlight given to the folk instruments, while the band takes more of a back seat. And it’s here that I think the band is at its most unique. Later in the album, as we move to the dwarves of Middle Earth, the detours into other genres become shorter and the sounds become more familiar (at least to fans of this sort of thing), but it’s the back half that had my favorite songs on the album: “The Wolves’ Call” and “The Eyes of the Mountain.” This makes the album a really engaging listen straight through from beginning to end. While the front half reels you in with a bit of novelty, the back half really brings it home and leaves you wanting more.
As a lover of all kinds of music, this is the sort of album to which I look forward to listening. It’s dynamic, it has some great songs, it integrates a variety of styles and instruments, and it’s honestly just a lot of fun. It’s clear that the members of Wind Rose are not only excellent at playing their instruments, but also love what they’re doing and have an enthusiasm that bleeds through the recording and into your speakers.