Review in Starvox (1)

Reviewers often use hyperbole when praising an album they particularly like. In the case of Elend's brilliant Winds Devouring Men, it would be impossible to use hyperbole since no matter how effusive my praises, they would not be exaggerations. This album is an artistic triumph of the highest magnitude. Elend has created a masterpiece of dark neo-classical music, a landmark by which other releases will be judged. Winds Devouring Men melds orchestral, synthetic, and industrial elements into an intense and powerful symphonic soundscape that that is both avante-garde and gothic in nature.

Winds... is a difficult album to discuss because it bears so little resemblance to most of the music reviewed in these pages. It is in fact more akin to a filmscore than an album of songs, and is best listened to in its entirety. It isn't totally devoid of traditional song structures either, though they're most often submerged in vast soundscapes that bleed into one another. Lengthy passages of the album are devoid of melody and are largely textural, blending traditional orchestration and thundering industrial percussion to startling ends. Sound design is one of Elend's greatest strengths, crafting eerie atmospheres and massive, disquieting industrial nosie. Paired with the exceptional production standards, Elend's knack for sound design pushes the intensity through the roof in the louder passages and allows for unnerving washes of sound in quieter times.

Mixed into the dense layers of audio are beautiful, smooth male vocals brimming with pathos. Though the album's cedits don't specify who does the bulk of the singing, whoever it was has a powerful and expressive voice that perfectly meshes with the music. His mid-pitched delivery is silky and crisp, and carries the same resonance as the instrumentation surrounding his vocals. Hauntingly ethereal female voices also surface from time to time, but in a choral role ('ahhh's and 'ooh's) rather than a lyric one. All of the acoustic instrumentalists deliver as poignant a performance as the vocalists, particularly the violinists, who are used to great effect. Every musician involved in creating Elend's 'Winds Devouring Men' is worthy of praise for their superb efforts.

If you're a fan of dark, atmospheric music and appreciate artistic expression at its highest level, you owe it to yourself to purchase Winds Devouring Men. Elend's style may be foreign to many listeners, but if you allow yourself to descend into the sonic world they craft, you'll be swept up into the music in no time. Fans of moody, dark filmscores or classical music should also find much to appreciate here. Since I review metal albums most of the time, I'm contractually obligated to make a horrible pun at the end of all my reviews. With that in mind, I'll just say that if you fit into any of the categories I mentioned above, Winds... will blow you away.

reviewed by Joel Steudler 06/10/03