"The Imaginary Direction of Time" (The End Records; 2004)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter


Winds is a Norwegian metal supergroup of sorts. Although the band tends to plant their collective feet more firmly in the classical mode rather than anything more metallic, the bandmembers are known for their work in the metal realm. "The Imaginary Direction Of Time" is the band's second full-length and third effort overall. I would have figured by now that I'd have heard Winds but, alas, this is not the case so many bands so little time.

"The Imaginary Direction Of Time" combines the romantic sounds of classical music along with a tint of progressive metal with blackened touches. In a way, Winds reminds me of the neo-classical guitarists that I'm so fond of, but with Winds you get a full-fledged band and songs/arrangements that incorporate all four basic instruments (guitars, bass, piano/keyboards, and drums) with violins, Viola, and cellos. The existential lyrics are bewildering when taken track by track, but nearly storytelling in an odd way when taken as a whole.

Overall, "The Imaginary Direction Of Time" has the feel of a movie soundtrack. The orchestrations are largely responsible for this although every band member plays in the neo-classical/progressive vein rather than heavy metal outright. The vocals are reasonably 'low' without resorting to the genre's high-pitched histrionics. The guitars are by far the most 'metal' thing about Winds although you'd be hard pressed to find much about the group that screams 'this is metal!' The piano and keyboards are the disc's secret weapon, covering all sorts of ground to be the base that makes the disc so irresistible. The violin, viola, and cello accompaniment is a crucial part of the Winds sound. Finally, special credit goes to drummer Hellhammer, er Jan Axel von Blomberg ... for his considerable restraint on this disc.

All of the tracks on "The Imaginary Direction Of Time" are standouts, but "Beyond Fate" has to be one of my favorite tracks of the year if not recent memory. And at less than three minutes is damn near a perfect example of what Winds is capable of accomplishing.

"The Imaginary Direction Of Time" is not for casual listening; in fact, multiple efforts may be required to fully appreciate it. This disc is a classic case of the reward being in direct correlation with the time spent with it. Consequently, it isn't for everybody. Fans of metal that only want head-splitting guitars and charging rhythms need not bother with "The Imaginary Direction Of Time." Fans of progressive, challenging, and extraordinary metal need to secure their copy of this disc immediately.

"The Imaginary Direction Of Time" was produced by Winds.

Winds: Lars Eric Si on vocals and bass, Carl August Tidemann on guitars, Andy Winters on keyboards, and Jan Axel von Blomberg on drums. The band is complemented by Andre Orvik (violin), Vegard Johnsen (violin), Dorthe Dreier (viola), and Nans-Josef Groh (cello).

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Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright 2004 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.