Saturday, February 12, 2005

Review: Wisdom - Wisdom (2004)

Wisdom [ Website | MySpace ]

Formed in the autumn of 2001 in Budapest, Hungary, the five members of Wisdom spent their first three years challenging themselves as songwriters and musicians to rise above the European power metal pack and create music that is inspired, memorable, and distinctive. To exhibit what they've achieved thus far, the band has released a 4-song, self-titled demo that testifies to the devotion and skills of the group. Heavily influenced by bands such as Helloween, Gamma Ray, Iron Maiden, and so many more of the traditional/power metal icons, Wisdom extracts key features of this popular genre and crafts them together in a fine example of heavy, melodic metal. At the core of Wisdom's sound is a massive twin-guitar assault from Gábor Kovács and Zsolt Galambos. Heavy, crunchy, beefy are adjectives that can only begin to describe the wall of sound these two axeslingers thrust from the speakers. As heavy as their riffs are, the melodies are definite and contagious.

The demo kicks things off with "Fate", and when I first listened to the disc I made the quick assumption that Wisdom could be categorized with bands such as Freedom Call, Fairyland, and Celesty. Apart from the demonic sound effects at the beginning, this track comes very close to being a typical Euro power metal song with soaring (somewhat sugary) vocals, anthemic choruses, plenty of familiar "happy" riffs, and frantic double-kick. The execution is superb, but for those of us who aren't particularly enthralled by this style it simply doesn't satisfy (though I'm sure fans of the aforementioned bands would disagree). The second track, however, provides a stark contrast to the style of "Fate" and really shows what Wisdom is made of. "King of Death" starts off with a thick theme riff that places their music in an altogether different category. The twin-guitar harmonies are clearly inspired by such NWOBHM greats as Iron Maiden and Judas Priest, but there is a heightened degree of heaviness that I find to be comparable to bands like Falconer. The remaining two songs are of a similar fashion, "Strain of Madness" featuring some killer '80s metal riffs, which does have the effect of leaving "Fate" to seem rather out of place. In addition to the riffs and harmonies, the solos dotted throughout the disc are adeptly performed and never disrupt the pace or feel of the songs. Too often a power metal "guitar hero" will unleash a wicked solo, only to have the song suffer because the timing was independent of the rest of the musicians or the placement was poorly planned. Such is definitely not the case here.

Along with the quality fretwork, a highlight of this demo is the vocal ability of frontman István Nachladal. Working primarily at the higher end of his range, his delivery is solid and he belts out the occasional falsetto expertly. There are awkward moments where his accent is overtly present, but the effect on the songs is slight. Something that caught my eye before even hearing what Wisdom was capable of is the superb cover art by Gyula Havancsak. Quite out of the ordinary for a demo, the packaging is very slick and professional.

As far as demos go this one stands among the best I've received, not just in terms of musicianship but for overall impact. From the artwork to the production to the songwriting, these guys have done a great job. I don't doubt that they'll be snatched up by a label sometime soon.

Track Listing
1 Fate 4:16
2 King of Death 4:01
3 Strain of Madness 4:13
4 Evil Disguise 4:22

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