Opening with sorrowful synths and strings, the first track on Winter Callings new record “Faces” starts off with such a promise of something to come, and before the guitars and vocals kicked in, they had my attention. That attention began to dwindle before the first track was done. The second track on the album “Not Like You” which features a guest appearance by John Wesley of Porcupine Tree on guitar, jumps directly into waters that anyone who is even vaguely familiar with anything that passes off as “heavy” on any self proclaiming alternative rock radio station; which was slightly disappointing for me being a huge fan of his Wesleys work in PT because right off the bat I know this is something I have heard before. Don’t get me wrong, these guys certainly know how to play their instruments, especially the guitarist, Ian Medhurst. He stands out to me among this band, between the little bits of classical acoustic that are thrown in here and there and more than a couple of tastefully placed solos. The keys and string parts throughout this album are definitely the highlight for me as well, which happen to also be performed by the bands drummer Wayne Hoefle. What throws me off about this band and distracts me from what the other musicians have to offer us on this album is the vocals done by Chris Hodges, I enjoy the gothic whispered vocals he uses at times but the lyrics strike me as immature and your basic atypical uninspired “I just broke up with my girlfriend” lyrical topics which stick throughout the entire record. He also goes into half yelled/half sung parts throughout the album. The production value is very clean and the album is also very well mixed. This is just something I have heard before, a million times over.
Winter Calling would fit perfectly on tour opening for bands like Sevendust, Shinedown or Avenged Sevenfold. I hear some potential influence from goth rock tinged bands on the more poppy side of goth, such as H.I.M. This kind of dark rock music has been around for nearly twenty years now and it just is simply nothing new. There certainly will be an audience for these guys though. I think everyones music taste grows in different directions with age, this is something I would have more than likely really dug when I was 12 getting into heavier things on whatever tapes I could get my hands on our what the radio was playing back in the year 2000. This band could certainly act as a gateway band for their fans, hopefully one day leading them to bands that have perfected the art of expressing that gothic romanticism in bands like My Dying Bride or Katatonia. These guys are not something I could see myself listening to again but I imagine there are a ton of people out there who will find this album great. Like I said, the production and musicianship is great, it’s the vocals that throw me off about this record. Its not in my taste but it very well may be in yours if you are into any of the bands I named earlier. Decide for yourself and listen to the whole record in full streaming on Soundcloud at the link below.