The number of those who are interested in neofolk music seems to be small, but growing. As the genre is an homage to the European heritage and makes use of European themes, and favors quality above quantity, it should be of great interest to many. A great addition to this music is the band Winglord, which has released an album with the apt title, Heroica.
Heroica consists of music of many different styles. The opening track, “Intraverunt Principes,” brings to mind H.E.R.R and their album, The Winter of Constantinople, with an epic soundscape consisting of both instruments and vocals. A few of the songs are reminiscent of Enya, not least the final song, “Island of the Blessed.”
Overall, the music falls into the neoclassical tradition, in which a beautiful, almost transcendent, and yet melancholy atmosphere is created. Some songs are also reminiscent of so-called “martial neofolk,” while the vocal parts of “To Suffer Woes” could be fruitfully compared to the work of the neofolk band Rome. The album’s ten songs combine to create an organic, well-constructed whole. Winglord’s usage of a variety of instruments is quite pleasing, including what sounds almost like a cathedral choir as well as a solo, ethereal female voice, contributing to the perfect atmosphere.
If one listens to the album straight through in the order in which the songs are numbered, one also begins to notice that an effect similar to a story ark can be discerned, as if describing the life and death of a European hero. The initial, almost transcendental “Intraverunt Principes” is followed by the more energetic “Hope and Glory” and “Hird,” then becoming more melancholic in “For the Love of a Mother,” “The Death of Aeneas” and “To Suffer Woes.” The album culminates in “Island of the Blessed,” which has a very life-affirming and triumphal sound, and we know that the life of the album’s hero has ended in a victorious transcendence. Whether or not this perceived story ark is intentional or not, it adds an extra dimension to the experience of the album.
All things considered, this is a very good album; the music is simultaneously epic and full of contrasts, complementing European sensibilities well. My personal favourites are “Intraverunt Principes,” mainly because of its grandiose sound imagery and the choir, the delicately beautiful “Hammer Stone” with its unfolding centred upon a solo piano, the dramatic “To Suffer Woes,” and the appropriately climactic “Island of the Blessed.” However, the album follows a high standard generally, and the entire album taken at once promises an adventurous audio experience. Heroica is therefore warmly recommended. It will be interesting to see what future projects Winglord will release. (Note: Since this review was written, Winglord just released their second album, The Chosen One.)
Heroica and The Chosen One are available through the Web site of Arktos, www.arktos.com. Additional information and samples can be found on the band’s own site, www.winglord.com, and links to samples can also be found below.