The 2016 release of debut EP, Fallen Angel In The Hell, suggested a promise and potential within the sound of Bulgarian symphonic metallers Metalwings which warranted future attention. The release was an imaginative and well-crafted proposition with the magnetic vocal prowess of founder Stela Atanasova at its core. Now the band has just released its first album in the dramatic roar of For All Beyond, a release which has not only realised much of that early intimation but sparked a new wave of enticing possibilities.
Hailing from Sofia, Metalwings create a rich and rousing sound; a blend of operatic drama and classical elegance driven by the raw force of symphonic and harsher essences of metal. The classically trained voice and expressive vocal theatre of Atanasova is a compelling head to the creative beast whilst the sounds around her cast their own imagination fuelled adventures to arouse, evoke, and trespass. Released in 2016, the band’s first EP certainly sparked intrigue and enjoyment, nurturing anticipation of what may evolve as they grew. Almost from its first breath, For All Beyond walks a higher plateau than its predecessor, each track an individual yet united adventure skilfully woven and heartily delivered with still the suggestion that we have yet to hear and the band find the full richest of their imagination.
For All Beyond immediately entices and swiftly enslaves attention with opener End of the War. Keys gently and provocatively rise up around ears as the vocal lures of Atanasova call like a siren. Soon the rapacious enticement of rhythms and the sonic tempting of guitars surge through the body, the track brewing an increasingly rousing incitement impossible not to be swept up in. As fiercely robust as it is there is an equally rich haunting quality which ebbs and flows across the track before bringing the cries of the victims and outcasts within its tempest.
Secret Town gallops into view next, rhythms and guitars inviting full attention before the vocals of Atanasova and of guitarist Krastyo Jordanov add their full temptation to the blossoming mix. The celestial rises of Angel Kitanov’s synth tease and suggest, combining enticingly with the colourful grace of Atanasova’s electric viola. Like you are hanging on to the mane of a surging beast, the song has attention gripping tightly before Immortal Metal Wings continues the excellent start to the album, almost eclipsing the first pair of tracks as cosmopolitan melodies inflame ears and imagination before an earthier hue flushes through the growing landscape of sound and inference. Atanasova again is a compelling engagement at the heart of the encounter but more than equalled by the drama and invention of the rest of the band in a song which might not be the boldest on the album but leaves nothing but thick pleasure in its wake.
Through the elegant folkish balladry of When We Pray, a song with a volatile undercurrent, and the almost gladiatorial drama of A Wish, ears and imagination are given more fuel to easily guzzle, the second of the two especially persuasive with its dark theatre and resourceful enterprise cored by a great carnivorous bassline from Milen Mavrov. The guitars of Grigor Kostadinov and Jordanov again create a web of melodic suggestion and sonic rapacity matched by the descriptive weaving of keys, it all colluding to cast a fascinating proposal matched by that of the sonically bracing, melodically seductive There’s No Time. Another major highlight of the release, the track is a gothic pregnancy of suggestion and sound.
Calm follows with the album’s title track, keys and voice sharing melancholic grace which is quickly wrapped in the synth woven caresses of Kitanov. It is a gentle peace which has a volatile air though, that ignited by the expressive guitars of Kostadinov and Jordanov and their suggestive tempestuousness. The ever resourceful rapier like swings of drummer Nikola Ivanov align with the predacious growl of Mavrov’s bass, their rapacious intent lingering even as subsequent moments of mellowness bring the evocative grace of Atanasova’s strings.
Realm of Dreams has the body and imagination bouncing once again, the melodic tease of keys dancing on the darker hues of aligning sounds. Across its masterfully magnetic length, the song fuses the contrasts of beauty and grace with aggression and raw trespass, creating a rotating realm of temptation and adventure. The best track on the album, it encapsulates all the invention, craft, and imagination of Metalwings whilst hinting of the even bolder adventures they might pursue ahead.
The release concludes firstly with Tujni Serza, a delicate but rich ballad sung in the band’ mother tongue and lastly an orchestral version of For All Beyond which gives full rein to the track’s already established emotion and grandeur with its instrumental winds.
It is fair to say, as many others, we were intrigued by the Metalwings debut EP if not completely convinced. For All Beyond though simply grabbed our appetite and imagination; tightening its hold song by song, creative layer by layer. Given a chance it just could be seizing yours too.
For All Beyond is out now, available @ https://metalwings.bandcamp.com/album/for-all-beyond
Pete RingMaster 09/05/2018
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