October 21, 2020

I’m not sure how the band Winter’s Verge has come to pass me by but it has and just the one listen the The Ballad of James Tig is enough to convince that the band is another totally over the top, majestic symphonic/power metal outfit that demands to be added to your must have list. The real surprise is that the band is not German, Scandinavian or even American but Cypriot and has been around since 2005 with The Ballad Of James Tig being the band’s fifth release to date.

This is epic and symphonic metal of the highest order and will be of interest to fans of the usual suspects in Stratovarius, Blind Guardian, Therion and Rhapsody Of Fire. This is an album on which just about everything has been thrown into the mix and Winter’s Verge have produced a crazy album that is not just an epic but is EPIC fantasy/melodic metal with every instrument, switch and dial set at max (it’s a little like Spinal Tap’s amps going to 11).

There have been several changes in the band since formation with just vocalist George Charalambous remaining from the original team and he now has with him the twin guitarists of Daniel Pavlovsky and Savvas Parperi, Stavy Michael on keyboards, Miguel Trapezaris on bass and Danny Georgiou on drums. The sound is big and all-encompassing and they have something of Savatage about them too and even elements of Trans-Siberian Orchestra in the grander and more symphonic moments (of which there are many). Of course, this is symphonic metal so it had to be a concept album too and it seems that all of the band’s work is conceptual and all takes place in a mythological kingdom called Tiberon and given the location of Cyprus then much of the material is going to be of a nautical nature.

The new album has taken three years to produce which is hardly surprising given the epic nature of the whole concept and it takes the term ambitious to a whole new level indeed. The lyrics to The Ballad Of James Tig have been written by the Cypriot author Frixos Masouras and is the tale of the mariner James Tig, a sailor who lost all of his family at sea when he was a young boy. The story charters his quest for revenge against the Killagorak a sea monster that he blames for the death of his family but you will have to buy the album to see if he gets the redemption he is looking for. The album also features the simply divine soprano vocals of Teodora Stoyanova Freya (Magic Of The North) who plays the character of Nina in the story and she adds an extra level of class when her vocals kick in. As should be expected, the drumming and bass is off the scale with exquisite keyboards from Stavy Michael and his piano work is enthralling and steeped in emotion. The guitars are screaming and the voice of George Charalambous is stunning and his command of English is excellent and accent free.

This is an album that works on every level as the music is exceptional, is a perfect example of symphonic metal at its most magnificent, outstanding musicians and a concept that is very easy to buy into and, being of a fantasy nature, so very complimentary to the music and style itself. I doubt symphonic metal gets much bigger or better than this magnum opus by Winter’s Verge.

The Ballad Of James Tig track list

  1. It Begins (6:56)
  2. A Thousand Souls (4:56)
  3. The Reckoning (4:40)
  4. Timeless (feat. Teodora Stoyanova Freya) (6:56)
  5. Killagorak (2:10)
  6. I Accept (feat. Teodora Stoyanova Freya) (5:02)
  7.  Blood On The Foam (6:05)
  8. The Sea (feat. Teodora Stoyanova Freya) (7:58)
  9. The Ballad Of James Tig (4:06)