The Wings Of Salvation
Everything about this band, from its name to the album title, predicts a generic slice of Italian power metal pizza with extra cheese. Surprisingly, that isn't the case. Crimson Wind is a bold and innovative progressive power metal band in the vein of Labyrinth, and while not all of their spaghetti sticks to the wall, enough of it does.
That realization is only for the patient though, as things start off with the less-than-stellar "Abyss Of Fire". By the end of the third track, ominously titled "Endless Déjà-Vu", that's pretty much what you've already written the album off to be. But just when you've settled in for mediocrity, the shimmering "Hold Your Dreams" kicks in and fizzles turn to bangs with a chorus that gets stuck in your brain like an elephant in a revolving door. The following "Mask Of Hatred" quickens the pace and it seems like the record has found its momentum. Alas, all that was built up is disrupted by the fine, but misplaced saxophone-driven ballad "Slave To Your Memory".
The second half never finds a sure footing again, but offers a wide variety of tracks. Song-by-song analysis is about the only way to describe the diversity on display, so here we go: there's the epic and progressive "Rain From The Universe", the weirdly operatic "The Crimson Stains", the highlight of the album "Rebirth" and the familiar but pleasing title track. Once you get used to this incoherent structure, the album plays out quite nicely, but it takes a while to get there. Patience is the key with "The Wings Of Salvation" as a whole.
At their worst Crimson Wind sound like Highlord with a hangover, but at their best they venture into the very Labyrinth of greatness. Singer Alessio Taormina (currently handling vocal duties for fellow countrymen Thy Majestie as well) even sounds like Roberto Tiranti at times. Their creativity seems boundless, but if they ever make a follow-up, I suggest they put it in function of overall coherence, instead of all-over-the-place-experimentation.
Arno Callens' rating: 3.5 out of 5