Monday, January 30, 2012

Winter Haze - Silent Deception (EP) (2012)

This all seems so familiar. Female fronted metal from Italy, with powerful vocals, and a strong mix of guitars and keys. The beauty of it all, when it comes to Winter Haze, is that this isn't the same old song and dance. A little heavier than current Lacuna Coil output, with a touch more opera than Nightwish can muster in the post-Tarja era, and a dose of growling that the likes of After Forever could be proud of. Frontwoman Giorgia has all of the vocal range necessary to paint the town red. In four songs, and a mere 17 minutes, "Silent Deception" gives you plenty to look forward to.

Despite the pedigree, the last thing you would expect to open a symphonic power metal track like "Cross The Sea" would be a smooth saxophone. The light synthesizers tie together the down tuned chugging guitars, with the sizzle of cymbals. Giorgia's voice is versatile, as is evident in the first switch from verse to chorus. She can change from standard register singing to a more operatic style, flawlessly. The track is straightforward, without any major twists or turns, but executed so well. Even the guitar solo is understated, but spot on. Unlike it's predecessor, "Vacuum" skips the subtleties, with a vicious attack springing from the gate, punctuated with a fierce growl. The trading male and female vocals sit so gently atop a pulverizing burst of drums. Even as she slips into the soprano register, a deathly growl chills you to the bone. The solo work here is excellent, adding another dimension to the overall soundscape. It transitions smoothly back into high speed, finishing with a flurry.

The title track to the EP, "Silent Deception," begins with a light use of electronics. Giorgia enters, her voice soaring over the top of an increasing bass line. This is the track that best displays the use of keys and synthesizers, a haunting element when used properly. The vocal mix has a slight crack in the armor in the middle sections, with the combined male and female vocals drowning out much of what goes on underneath. A blistering solo brings the track back to even, allowing for a strong finish. The building trio of vocals at tracks end, male, female, and growling, does wonders. The finale, a track titled "The Watchmaker," is as precise as the craft itself. Layers upon layers of sound come together, with the keyboards seeing a starring role. As with previous songs, the multiple vocal tracks come together in a beautiful harmony of opposites. A thunderous roll of double kicks and snares builds the density to near backbreaking weight. The solo, again, is light but effective, carrying a certain level of soul from start to finish.

All of the pieces are in place, and Winter Haze will only improve with time. There is a lack of lateral movement, choosing to stick with a formula that works. And while this isn't entirely a bad thing, it can lead to a full length album that may prove to be a touch too predictable and safe. As an exhibition, this is a collection of four songs that says, "this is what we can do, make sure you listen." And with an EP that takes less time to listen to than it takes to make a frozen pizza, it makes a statement: put away the DiGiorno. "Silent Deception" is far more satisfying.


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