Winter's Bane

Winter’s Bane hasn’t been one of the luckiest bands in the world. After releasing their very solid melodic power metal debut Heart of a Killer in 1993, they soon lost their lead singerĀ – a guy by the name of Tim Owens, better known as “Ripper.” Guitarist Lou St. Paul took over the vocal duties on their second album, Season of Brutality, which never saw the light of day. Then St. Paul went solo for Girth, an album that was a bit different from the Winter’s Bane material. Ultimately, though, it was Owens that eventually brought them some recognition in 2000, when Century Media re-released Heart of a Killer in a two-disc set with demos to showcase Ripper’s pre-Judas Priest material.You’d think they would have tried to cash in on that with a new album, but instead, Winter’s Bane’s sophomore recording comes six years later and 13 years after the release of their debut. And it doesn’t sound much different from that 1993 release. The new lineup is St. Paul on guitar and bass, Mark Cross on drums and Alexander Koch on vocals.

The first stop has to be Koch and how he steps into Owens’ shoes. Oddly, it seems that they’ve gone from a Rob Halford cover singer to a Bruce Dickinson cover singer. Considering their history, I’d say they better hope Bruce and Maiden don’t split. Of course, there are far worse singers to sound like than Dickinson, and Koch is a very capable vocalist for this style, and does have some interesting moments, liked the Dickinson-Halford-Tate lovechild vocals on “Spark to Flame.”

Musically Redivivus covers similar ground to bands like Iced Earth, an American power metal style built on the NWOBHM sound. There are plenty of Priest and Maiden influences all over this album. They do occasionally slip into a more European style, as on “Dead Faith,” but they’re much better in the other mode.

St. Paul’s guitar work is solid. He does a lot of impressive noodling all over the album, but fails to deliver one of those truly memorable big riffs that you hope for in this style. The closest he comes is probably “Remember to Forget,” which oddly enough sounds like Owens-era Priest.

In the end, Redivivus is a whole lot like Heart of a Killer. It’s not likely to shake your world up. It’s a solid, workman-like product that’s enjoyable and shows some promise, but it sounds like a band that’s best work is still ahead. Maybe it won’t take another 13 years to get there.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Fred Phillips
April 15th, 2005


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