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Northwind - History

by Mark Machlay at 02 July 2020, 4:59 AM

Little did many of Americans like me know – not to mention I was too young at the time to even take notice – but there was a burgeoning metal scene in Greece in the early 1980s starting with “Happening ‘82’” a compilation of metal artists in the area. It was well received and allowed VAVOURA BAND, HEAVEN AND HELL, and AEOLOS to get a start in the industry. The big surprise, however came from the north part of Greece, Thessaloniki with the rare LP, “Northcomin’”, the debut album from NORTHWIND. It was a sendup to “Sabotage” era BLACK SABBATH and gained them much respect in Greece during the five years they spent performing live before they would create what was their masterpiece. “Mythology” was released in 1987, a more ‘metalized’ album as well as adding some progressive rock elements as well. Totally dedicated to Greek mythology of the time and featuring operatic female backing vocals, it was a monumental achievement for the band and is arguably the best metal album from Greece. Another 5 years later, the band visited famous Metropolis Studios in the UK, recorded four tracks and unfortunately went on hiatus.

Many years later, they reformed to play a supporting show with one of their major influences, URIAH HEEP and had a showing at the Up The Hammers Festival XIII in 2018. Recording commenced again at “Papa’s Studio” – where they recorded their previous album 33 years ago – in order to keep the same vibe and spirit from the late 80s. It is unclear if any of the tracks from the ’92 recording sessions make an appearance on this new recording. The band were able to complete the long-awaited “History” for a 2020 release exploring legitimate historical figures and events rather than myths this time around. They continue here with the classic heavy metal compositions and arrangements, complete with an Ian Gillen-like singer in Dimosthenis Dovas, sometimes delving into DIO territory and even at times the infamous David Lee Roth. Channeling IRON MAIDEN in “King Alexander the Third” and “Marathon March”, nailing their style pretty accurately, kudos should be given to the overly enthusiastic playing of lead guitarist Kostas Papadopoulos.

But so much of the good in this record is marred by the subpar production. Once again, as with many guitarists that either choose to emulate or legitimately came from the late 70s and 80s, the guitar’s gain levels are much too high, making them sounded muddy, muffled, and unclear. Then there is whatever is happening with the snare drum, especially noticeable in the opening roll of “First Shot”. I’m not sure if it’s a gating issue or the delayed reverb is causing it, but every attack sounds and feels like smacking your belly against the surface of water during a belly flop, it’s awful! It doesn’t help that many of the songs are mid-tempo, barely creative snores. The only interesting thing is the guitar playing from Papadopoulos who sounds like Jimi Hendrix if he got too much control in the studio. At times his solo work is jaw-dropping (“Pyrrhos The Eagle” solo) but more often, he suffers from guitar-wankery-syndrome such as the intro to “My Dying Day” channeling both Eddie Van Halen with dive bombs and the aforementioned Hendrix with his histrionics This is also present in the ending of “Cry Free-Die Free” in which it’s as if the sound guy just forgot to tell him to stop before an unnecessarily long fadeout. It’s too bad because that was easily the most creatively interesting track on the album, taking a lot of risks with could be just another power ballad-y track.

Ultimately, if you like this era of heavy metal, you can probably find some redeeming factors to add this to your collection. But, to me, there wasn’t enough here to warrant a third listen and I avoided a second listen as much as I could. This album didn’t grab me, plain and simple, I can see remnants of why they were so popular in Greece.

Songwriting: 5
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 6
Production: 4

3 Star Rating

1. The Wooden Walls
2. King Alexander the Third
3. Soldier’s Pay
4. My Dying Day
5. First Shot
6. Marathon March
7. Pyrrhos the Eagle
8. Aristodemus the Hero
9. Cry Free – Die Free
10. The Dog
Dimosthenis Dovas – Lead Vocals
Kostas Papadopoulos – Lead Guitar
Theodoros Doulamis – Bass Guitar and Vocals
Thanasis Tsimoudis – Drums and Percussion
Record Label: No Remorse Records


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