Wuthering Heights
Salt

Listen, I’m not much of a power metal/heavy metal guy. My enjoyment of the genre is pretty much limited to Iron Maiden, Manowar and Rhapsody of Fire, with maybe short bursts of Dragonforce. I simply can’t get into the vocals, even with the admitted skill within bands like Tarot, Avantasia, Kamelot, Pharoah, Sonata Arctica and such.

But… along comes the fifth album from Denmark’s Wuthering Heights and I’m enjoying the hell out of it. Much more so than my only other exposure to the band, 2006s The Shadow Cabinet.

I don’t know if it’s the bands slightly more melodic/thrash backbone, the very small injections of folk music (or in the case of this album, injections of nautical/pirate-elements), but either way, Salt has been getting a lot of rotation on my iPod and I’m loving every over the top note.

Other than the brilliant song writing of guitarist Erik Ravn, the heart of Wuthering Heights is vocalist Nils Patrik Johansson (Astral Doors, Lion’s Share and Space Odyssey). Channeling equal parts Rio James Dio (RIP), Bruce Dickinson and Jack Black, his over the top delivery is borderline comical at times, but the man has chops and it all seems to fit in to the overarching marine concept of the album.

The songs carry the concept perfectly through all 9 songs on Salt. Songs I’ve found myself humming and singing too subconsciously, all helped by the fact there seems to be a lot more oomph and pacing to the material. The guitars of Ravn and Martin Arendal (Manticora) crunch with a tone that’s far more appealing than many power metal bands I’ve heard. Then to top it off, the keyboards of Martin Arendal (Audiovision) drench everything in the expected epic hues, but with a bit of a folk and of course, maritime atmospheres which almost makes you smell the briny seas.

With the exception of the short and overtly cheesy ‘drinking song’ “Water of Life”, all of the songs left me simply enthralled and entertained from start finish. The pacing ranges from energetic gallops to more somber controlled moments, all in the framework of the varied and lengthy songs that carry the story perfectly. I especially enjoyed the Pirate-ish shanty “The Mad Sailor”, rousing “Weather the Storm”, the stern crunch of “Tears” and the 16-minute epic closer “Lost at Sea”, which imbued visions of Maiden’s “Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner” (which I’d love to hear these guys cover). But, frankly, this is an album where I can listen to either all the tracks from start to finish, or jump to a favorite and still be immensely entertained.

Of course its all immaculately produced and has lavish story telling lyrics, making for a complete package that all power metal fans should seek out, and in all, an album that might just flirt with my year list, a first for any sort of power metal act.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
June 29th, 2010

Comments

  1. Commented by: ceno

    I’m glad you reviewed it, Erik. Moreover, I’m glad it got all sorts of praise from you ’cause this album is just perfect in all respects and worth all the praise. I was even thinking of it as my aoty for a while, so strong was its initial impact on me. I especially like the way they combine power and folk elelments, something that not every band within the genre can do so perfectly. Very close to me are also the folkish melodies that, for some reason, remind me of Russian folk music. I think all of their albums with Nils on vocals are amazing, but this one and The Shadow Cabinet are especially good and would be a perfect start for anyone wanting to check these guys out.


  2. Commented by: Shawn Pelata

    I need to revisit these guys…I remember liking their early stuff…


  3. Commented by: Corbin

    Interesting that you can’t get into other power-metal bands because of the vocal performances. I can’t get into this band, particularly this album because of the over-the-top cheese vocals.


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