Album: Dance of Fire and Freedom
Genre: Progressive Folk Metal
FFO: Arkona, TYR, Ensiferum
Windmill is a type of band I’ve never given much attention to. I know folk metal exists, and for the most part, I know what it is. But I’ve never given it the time of day to really sit down with it. This was a new experience for me filled with a lot of different emotions throughout it. To begin, production is as you might expect from a bands first LP - decent. The mix is well enough to hear and appreciate most of everything going on, which is important with the extra elements being showcased aside from the traditional metal instruments. I’m always a fan of hearing different things being thrown into the mix to freshen up the classic metal sound, so it was fun to say the least to really listen to it.
The introduction to ‘Dance of Fire and Freedom’ eases you into it with an intro instrumental, building up to the first song. The first song then has another minute or so of instruments that eventually reach the main riff. A faster groove with a whistle melody behind it before vocals come in. Quite a few thoughts popped into my head in a short amount of time. In the matter of 30 seconds or so, I went from thinking “what the..” to “well that’s weird”, “that’s interesting” then when that heavy groove hits at around 2 minutes; “oh, alright, that’s nice”. I was all over the place with my thoughts to say the least. All this just to come to a slower, spacey break with a much lighter vocal, and right back into the main groove. Only the first actual song was a roller coaster and I had seven more to go. With that being said, the rest was as expected, much like the first song. Windmill takes your classic metal sound and incorporates these folk instruments and neat melodies. The vocals are just as diverse as the music itself as well. There might be these smoother, deep singing vocals, grunts, or even whispering. All these components are combined to create a different atmosphere and listening experience than what the average metal fan might know and love. The folk narrative very easily brings you into their world.
There’s enough character in this album to enjoy plenty of times over. Breaking down the lyrics alone, there’s endless lore and story to delve into. Far more than what I can understand myself. But there are clearly interesting themes being written. Just another element that forces imagination and takes you to another place in your mind. Still, I find the instrumentals to be the highlight here though. There’s a lot of sounds being used other than the guitar, bass, and drums. Some I could identify, some I couldn’t. They include these sounds anywhere from simple choruses to powerful rhythms. There’s always something new to hear or point out, which is what makes another listen so easy. The album closes out with what sounds like a crackling fire. I personally love the sound of fire so that definitely left the album on a great note in my book.
I listen to a lot of different things, much more unique and odd than this, so I can 100% appreciate everything Windmill is doing. But I can’t say it’s my cup of tea. I enjoyed it as an experience with something new to my ears, and recognize the effort put into it - which is why I want to give this a higher rating. After trying out some other folk metal to compare this to, I also have to say these guys are on top of things. They sound right on par with bigger bands in the genre, and I’d say even better. Bring in better production and you’ve got yourself a well rounded folk metal band that you could easily mistaken for a decade older than they actually are.
Strongest Song: Matoah, Klatwa Utopca
Apple Music: https://music.apple.com/us/artist/windmill/1492771326