WINTERS BANE - HEART OF A KILLER (Massacre Records)

 

In the series ''Join the reign of Power'' Massacre records released some outstanding albums. I've talked about Oracle ''As Darkness Reign'' before, a blistering for all those who are into US Power Metal. Another kept Heavy Metal secret is Winters Bane ''Heart Of A Killer''. It was the first album of the band and the first time I had the chance to hear Tim 'Ripper' Owens. In those days, the year is 1993, this record was totally overlooked because it was overall a bad time for true Metal. 

This concept album begins with a threatening calm intro of a song called 'Wages Of Sin'. The very first notes of mister Owens shows immediately something special is awaiting the listener. Followed by the first high scream, a typical US Metal one, I was sure I discovered another favorite Metal album. Rob Halford was the big idol from Ripper Owens and his kind of vocals sound very similar. He was a previous member of a 'Judas Priest tribute band'. In 1997 this man could make his dream come true to replace Halford in Judas Priest. Being invited to join one of the world's biggest Metal bands means you have to own a godlike voice, no? 

Meanwhile every Metal fan knows the man and no one can deny he owns an outstanding 'golden' voice with a wide range and incredible power. The fact that he's able to bring a whole full sense of emotions in his timbre makes him belong amongst the greatest on earth. His high screams are meanwhile immortal because he also used them with all other bands he joined. In my opinion Tim Owens convinced me the most with this Winters Bane album. Tim is at his best when he can sing on dark powerful Metal. This release and his job at ''Jugulator'', a masterpiece although it wasn't a typical Priest record, proves my statement. Tim Owens is shining brightly on this CD, singing a story about the killer Cohagen.

 

It would be unfair to only talk about this record because of Owens' debut in the Metal scene. Musical wise this is pure US Power, heavy as steel, true as it can be. This band belongs to Lou St.Paul who is a very gifted composer and an extraordinary guitarist. His way of pulling the strings is dark, extremely heavy and technical with an immense feeling for emotions. His riffs are dominating, complex, very dynamic and will smash you right into your face. On a very clear production we hear pretty aggressive arrangements that are influenced by the middle eighties American Power and Thrash bands. 

Don't expect fast songs, all are mid tempo but with plenty of breaks which makes the songs sound varied. The bass and complex percussion are giving a solid base to each song with recognizable refrains. Musical wise Winters Bane is reminding the listener often to Judas Priest in a mixture with bands like Helstar, Sanctuary, Flotsam & Jetsam and all other American beauties. Making this description makes it easy to say ''Heart Of A Killer'' is a highly recommended album and believe me even today it still blows me away. This is the kind of music that makes me proud of being a Metal head and it's a pity our community isn't familiar with this kind of Metal anymore.

 

After this release there were years of silence and Owens joined Judas Priest and Iced Earth. In between he formed his own band, Beyond Fear, but it never was a big success. Nowadays there are rumors about a reunion with Winters Band. Meanwhile Tim joined Yngwie Malmsteen, I'm curious how it will sound. Winters Bane released a second album in 1997 with Lo St.Paul on vocals. Musical wise it was a good album but it missed shrieking vocals. On their third album, ''Redivivus'', this problem was solved by making Alexander Koch (Spiral Tower) as a member. Once again Winters Bane released a jewel but they never received a well deserved break through.

 

My Points: 99 / 100