Winter Storm – Within The Frozen Design

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Review by Tony Gaskin

Self Released

A lot of thought has gone into the presentation of Winter Storm’s second album, Within The Frozen Design. The artwork makes a statement and reflects the story that’s locked up inside just waiting to be unleashed. But is this a box of delights, or a Pandora’s Box we open up? Well, first of all track one, ‘Cold Creation’, is an instrumental intro that seems disjointed, erratic and schizophrenic all at once. Maybe this discordant opening is designed to be like this; I don’t know, but I felt it didn’t flow into the next track or reflected the feel of the rest of the album. So get past the bedlam that is the intro and what do we get? A story that takes us through a journey of wonderment, discovery and ultimately despair and madness.

Opening track proper ‘Wasted Feelings’ takes full advantage of Hannah’s vocals. Heavy riffs, pulsating bass, and haunting keyboards that provide the foundations for Winter Storm’s dark, brooding style of symphonic metal, with Hannah’s haunting vocals overlaying it all, something which didn’t come across as well in the first album, here the mix is much better. As the album progresses through the entity’s story, we get an uplift in emotions during the middle part of the album, beginning with the excellent ‘Symmetric Flow’ through the interlude of ‘Broken World’ (which would have been a much better intro) to the cataclysmic ‘Universal Design’ where you get the best from all the elements of this band; the best track on the album for me.

‘Gatekeeper’ marks the change of tone as we descend into even darker depths. Sadness and despair are the over-riding emotions that begin to creep through as the spiral into madness begins; just the titles of the final three tracks give you a clue – ‘Dark Awakening’, ‘Waves of Misery’ and ‘The Frozen Siren’. ‘Dark Awakening’ has been used as the lead single from the album and, taken out of the context within the overall storyline, as a standalone single it actually has an upbeat feel to it, whilst ‘Waves of Misery’ feels grey and morose, you begin to feel for the character and their hopelessness. At the end, ‘Frozen Siren’ lifts the tempo and mood a little, but you’re left feeling that the story is incomplete and there is more to come.

Overall, a confident album, it flows well as a story and you can feel real empathy for the character. Always a brave decision to go for a concept, but they’ve done well here. My only reservations are the intro track and some of the meandering instrumental segments in some of the tracks, they go on a bit too long for my liking on a couple of them. Perhaps redemption is still to come in the form of album number three?

Winter Storm 20138 out of 10

You can pre-order the album via the bands website with all pre-orders being despatched a few days ahead of the launch. To coincide with the release there will be a gig on the 16th November in conjunction with Ovation Music at The Slade Rooms. Featuring guests Awake By Design, In Dante’s Eclipse and Frozen in Fear, check out the event page here.

Track listing:

  1. Cold Creation
  2. Wasted Feelings
  3. Shadow Weaver
  4. Symmetric Flow
  5. Afraid To Speak
  6. Beneath The Mystery
  7. Broken World
  8. Universal Design
  9. Gatekeeper
  10. Dark Awakening
  11. Waves Of Misery
  12. The Frozen Siren