Wuthering Heights – Salt: Review
On April 12, the Danish progressive power metal band, Wuthering Heights, released their latest album, Salt. I have grown very fond of this band after hearing their previous two releases, Far From the Madding Crowd and The Shadow Cabinet. Prior to listening to this album, I was unsure whether the band would be able to match the two aforementioned ones. However, they have easily done so with Salt, creating what could very possibly be 2010’s best record.
The Music (rating: A)
- The Desperate Poet
- The Mad Sailor
- The Last Tribe (Mother Earth)
- Weather the Storm
- The Field
- Water of Life
- Lost at Sea
Salt is, like all other Wuthering Heights albums, a progressive power metal album with a heavy folk influence. Still, its differences are plentiful enough as to make it a must-hear within the band’s catalog. The folk influence is more apparent in this album than the others and takes more of a “pirate” style, which is extremely complimentary given the album’s themes. Though it is mainly metal, there is a large collection of ballads among the songs. There is also much diversity in tone; some songs like “The Mad Sailor” are quite uplifting, while others like “Lost at Sea” grow quite dark. Altogether, there is a variety of moods and styles given by this album, yet the album stays true to itself.
With the current lineup, Wuthering Heights is basically a power metal supergroup. The majority of the members are from reputable power and/or progressive bands, and it is evident with each individual’s instrumental performance. The vocalist, from Astral Doors, presents highly creative phrasing and a great deal of range and power. Also from Pyramize, the drummer gives unorthodox accentuation in his beats, and reaches far beyond the standard double bass/snare/hi hat power metal beats. Band founder Eric Ravn alongside Manticora’s guitarist produce amazing riffs and solos, as well as beautifully crafted acoustic sections. The keyboardist, also a member of Audiovision, enhances the musical mood with background support, but also gives the occasional melody of which is never short from stellar. And though the bassist did not stand out as much as he did in previous efforts, his technicality and musical sense is commendable. On all fronts, there is nothing undeserving of praise.
Just like anything remotely relevant to the word “progressive,” there is a great deal of musical subtleties and complexities to be appreciated. The song structures are very unconventional, often with a large number of different sections. Still, every song feels whole and properly pieced together. The transitions between sections, whether sudden or gradual, are always appropriate and fitting. Every piece is also extremely dynamic due to the great deal of tempo and time signature changes. Key changes are not as heavily employed, but just as effectively done so. There are no shortcomings in the overall musical construction of this album.
Though the album has a similar feel to the former releases, it still brings new creative ideas to the power metal scene. The album explores a more folksy approach to music. In conjunction with the heavy power metal style, it is something rarely executed at such a high level. However, Wuthering Heights never fails to do so. They produce sounds that many avoid, either due to incompetence or ignorance. This band shows themselves to be the opposite of both. Also, the high level of complexity given by the album feels familiar, yet new. In other words, it has characteristics that make it unmistakably a Wuthering Heights album, but is still refreshing and is, more importantly, a step forward in the power-prog scene.
This is an album that cannot be missed. Its music is at the highest level of creativity, and its instruments are no less impressive. The style is distinctly that of Wuthering Heights, yet is unique even within the bands collection. Listening to this album is guaranteed to be a new and fulfilling experience, as well as a realization of how hypothetical boundaries, such as those set by the definition of power metal, are meant to be broken. Salt is one of the few albums which I would deem “near perfect”.
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