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Vinsta is a one man project featuring Christian Holl from Austria though he is aided by guest musicians. The self-titled debut album was released in 2014. It was however a folk music release but it is on his second album Vinsta Wiads, released in 2017, that progressive death metal is introduced whilst still retaining some folk elements.
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VINSTA Vinsta album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Non-Metal 2014
VINSTA Vinsta Wiads album cover 3.92 | 2 ratings
Vinsta Wiads
Death Metal 2017

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VINSTA Vinsta Wiads

Album · 2017 · Death Metal
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When I was first getting into metal, one of the very first death metal (or at least death metal influenced) bands I was introduced to was Swedish band Opeth. I first heard their 2005 release Ghost Reveries and was immediately blown away by their unique sound, and checking out some of their earlier albums only led to more excitement. Sadly, the band never again managed to recapture what made some of their best albums work after 2005, as their next album Watershed was a disappointment, and ever since they've switched to more of a retro progressive rock sound, leaving some of their fans disappointed. While I personally find some enjoyment in their newer albums, I've definitely been left wanting to hear something closer to their classics. Well, I've now found one band who's here to help fill the void, that being the Austrian progressive death metal project Vinsta, created by Christian Höll with the help of various guest musicians. His self-titled debut was apparently a non metal folk album, but for his second release, Vinsta Wiads, he has changed to a progressive death metal sound which very much reminds me of classic Opeth, and while it doesn't quite reach the levels of some of their best albums, it's a pretty strong release, and one I can easily recommend to fans looking for something along those lines.

While I have enjoyed other progressive death metal bands since I first discovered Opeth, I've never found another band that can so successfully create the kind of dynamic music the Swedes were capable of in their glory days, so fluidly moving from extreme death metal riffs one minute, to calm, atmospheric progressive music the next. This is some something Vinsta does very well, as all four full length songs on this album range from just under 9 minutes, to over 10 minutes, and they each have various movements and each strike a nice balance between more extreme metal moments, and calmer, atmospheric sections. There's certainly some heavy riffs to be found during the death metal portions, as well as some very intense and technical drumming at points, while during some of the more melodic portions there's some excellent instrumental work, including some nice solos. The production is top notch, not feeling over produced, but feeling polished enough to sound clear and powerful, and everything comes through clearly. While Vinsta's debut was apparently more folk oriented, there are very few moments on this release that I'd described as folk, aside from maybe a couple of the interlude tracks, which have some kind of chanting vocals and some of the softer instrumental portions maybe fall into dark folk or neo folk territory, but I certainly wouldn't expect any flutes or violins or any kind of flashy folk melodies on this release, as instead the songs are all a mix of progressive metal and death metal throughout.

One very important aspect of this kind of album is the vocals, as you need a vocalist capable of both enjoyable death growls, as well as smooth clean vocals. Thankfully, Christian Höll proves himself to be very good at both styles, with his harsh vocals being fairly deep and quite powerful, while his clean vocals are mostly calm and lower pitched, often blending in nicely with the atmosphere of the music. One notable touch is that this album is sung entirely in a regional Austro-Bavarian dialect, so Christian's vocals end up sounding a bit more unique just because of that, and it's a pretty nice touch.

I often struggle with the songwriting on any death metal related albums, as I find many bands in the genre tend to have too many samey sounding songs, with nothing standing out, and so I lose attention easily. This isn't the case with Vinsta, as while every full length song is complex, there are memorable moments on each track, as well as some obvious differences that make each one standout. The opening title track is a perfect indication of what to expect from the album, as following a brief but nice acoustic guitar opening, the heavy riffs and death growls quickly kick in, and it turns into a very classic Opeth sounding track, with the guitars being very heavy, while also managing to have the kind of dark atmosphere fans would expect from this style, and it all works very nicely. The track stays heavy through most of the first half, and then around the midway point we get the first calmer section, where the clean vocals kick in during a more atmospheric section, and then there's a nice melodic guitar solo. After that, the rest of the track alternates between calm and heavy sections, with the death metal elements mostly dominating, though the few calmer sections are all very nice and the melodic guitar work at times is also excellent. It's a great track overall and a great start to the album.

The next track “Gedonknschwa”, is a mostly mid paced track, which starts out pretty heavy, and overall it's definitely one of the more death metal oriented tracks on the album, though it has a really cool section early on where the drums get super intense and the guitars are pretty heavy, but Christian uses his clean vocals on top of this and it makes for a pretty neat effect. The guitar work is again very strong throughout, and is used very effectively to add to the atmosphere of the track. The second half of the track in particular has a nice melodic solo, as well as a great clean vocal section.

Following a brief but nice interlude track, “Bluatlauf” is the slowest paced song on the album, and it's a more melodic and very atmospheric track, with some great clean vocals early on, though it still has some heavy riffs at points, and both vocal styles are used effectively throughout. While it's a fairly calm track for the most part, there's an intense and speedier section near the end, where the growls get more intense, and it's definitely one of the highlights of the album, as is the excellent melodic guitar work that follows. The longest and most folk infused interlude track is next, and this is the one with the weird chanting vocals I mentioned earlier. Following that is the last full length track “Dei Ruaf”, the shortest of the full length songs, though it actually has quite a lot going on, including a really nice guitar solo at the start that immediately sets the tone. The track starts out slowly, but builds up tension as it goes along, and it's actually probably the most death metal oriented track overall, with most of the song being heavy and featuring death growls. The last couple minutes are pretty epic, before the track ends quietly, giving way to acoustic outro track that ends the album.

Overall, Vinsta Wiads is a very high quality progressive death metal album, which strikes a nice balance between heavy extreme metal sections with harsh vocals, as well as calmer, more melodic clean vocal sections, all while maintaining a dark atmosphere throughout. It very much reminds me of early Opeth and I think fans of that band who have been disappointed by their more recent works may find a lot to like on this album. Hopefully this isn't just a one off, as Christian Höll has made a great album here, and I hope to hear more from him in this style in the future.

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