Holding Out for a Hero



The Chosen One

Rubikon, 2012

The Chosen One, the latest album by the Neoclassical group Winglord, develops the concept formulated by its predecessor, Heroica. The quality is even throughout, and in some places is superior to their debut album.

This album offers the listener 11 tracks. The style can once again be classified as Neofolk, even if the classical and, in a manner of speaking, “cinematic” streaks are far more marked than they are among the giants of the genre. While the grandfathers of Neofolk, bands like Death In June and Sol Invictus, often make use of repetition and industrial strains, here we find complex soundscapes, with an ambience that has more in common with the music of Romanticism. The arrangements, on the other hand, shift between primarily musical ones (although hardly in the typical verse-bridge-refrain style), and other modern, popular forms. Influences from film scores and recent computer game theme music are obvious, and occasional electronic riffs can be discerned in the midst of the generally more acoustic instrumentation (archeofuturism, anyone?). The folk influences are also far more pronounced than on Heroica, with intercalated melodies calling to mind the medieval countryside or the Renaissance court. The militant ingredients in the music are less obvious—they are present, but the atmospheres are more subtle and perhaps integrated better than among bands such as Bunkergeist.

The few lyrical components that surface revolve around a Romantic image of Europe and European resistance. The title track, for instance, contains almost messianic sentiments, nuanced by a somewhat skeptical and critical proviso:

We seek the harvester, the reaper of truth and dignity

We seek a leader, a king

One who holds our future in his hands—a valiant hero

Are you the chosen one?

Or are you but a shadow, a spectre?

Speak out!

Most of the time, however, any verbiage is confined to the song titles, which complements the music in a pedagogic fashion. One need not consult the track list to conclude that the melody one is listening to is “Dance of the Victorious,” nor are any explanations required for the listener to hear the sound of mobilization in “Muster the Minions.”

The Chosen One is an impressively varied record, and leaves behind the very few shortcomings of its predecessor. In “Building the Ships,” the suggestively epic soundtrack of a battle at sea is contrasted with a choir which, for some reason, makes this reviewer think of a Nordic version of the theme from the animé epic Ghost in the Shell, and this type of unexpected mental imagery is easy to discover upon  a close hearing. Along with only a few other bands, Winglord keeps bringing the genres of Neofolk and Neoclassical out of the sweaty boy's room where militaristic fantasies become escapism or a resentful glorification of violence, and suggests that Europe—our Europe—may yet have a future.

“Get ready. The world is changing.”