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  • Writer's pictureThe Metal Mayan

Wind Rose, Xandria @ Toad's Place

Updated: Apr 30

"Did you all go see something about elves a couple weeks ago?" asked some passing students with a chuckle, "And tonight you have something about dwarves? Wish we had the night free to get in on this!"

Though only partially correct with their reference to the Elvenking concert in late March (check out that review here), the question about dwarves was very much the case.

As the door of Toad's Place opened, Connecticut metal heads, joined also by those who traveled down from Massachusetts and Rhode Island, prepared to be part of the history of 'dwarf metal' as folk metal superstars Wind Rose came all the way from Italy to conquer New Haven.

As their first headlining tour in North America, direct support came from symphonic metal masters Xandria. Though an earlier show than usual (curfew was at 10pm to make way for a dance club event after the concert), it would go down as arguably one of the most energetic shows of the year in town, if not the state of Connecticut at large.

Predating their peers in Nightwish, Epica and Within Temptation by several years, Xandria continues to raise the bar higher within their sub-genre as they enter their third decade as a band. Switching between incredible, operatic highs and fearsome roars, vocalist Ambre Vourvahis commanded the Connecticut crowd with ease.

Starting off fast and furious with "You Will Never Be Our God" and then switching into more melodic territory with "Death To The Holy", guitarists Marco Heubaum and Rob Klawonn bedazzled the audience with their head spinning solos.

Premiering a brand new single, "Universal", which officially released 16 April, fans new and old got to hear the future of Xandria. In tandem with four choice cuts from the band's last album, 2023's The Wonders Still Awaiting, one circle pit after another cranked the energy of the room into the highest gear throughout the set.

Having toured the U.S. and stopping in New York last summer, supporting Kamelot and Battle Beast, Xandria's first show in Connecticut was nothing short of a success. Indeed, even as the band bid farewell and headed offstage, a lone fan was spotted crowd surfing towards the barricades, hoping to get close to their heroes.

It started somewhere deep in the crowd: two words repeated over and over, barely audible over the sound of the music playing on the PA as the last mic checks were completed. Then another voice joined in, and another, and then many more. And in just a few moments, the entire room resounded with the thundering chant: "Wind Rose".

As the house lights cut off and the band took the stage, the applause from those who had two hands available - the rest sparing one hand to raise their inflatable axes to the sky - the members of Wind Rose could not hide their joy at the sight of a sold out house waiting to greet them. "This is our first time in New Haven," declared vocalist Francesco Cavalieri, "and it shall not be our last!"

Released two years ago, the band's fifth album, Warfront, incited as much ruckus as it did the day it came out. Leading off with "Army of Stone", the circle pit erupted while those not caught in the mosh sang the words loud and proud. Charging into "Fellows of the Hammer", keyboardist Federico Meranda kept his cellphone handy to capture the magic of the evening as hammer battles waged in the crowd.

Pulling out the first of four tracks from 2019's Wintersaga, Cavalieri asked if anyone knew "what is better than one dwarf?" before answering with "a drunken dwarf!" as the opening notes to "Drunken Dwarves" rang out. With additional vocals provided by guitarist Claudio Falconcini and bassist Cristiano Bertocchi, the essence of dwarf lore - see also battle and labor hardened men of the mountain - blared throughout the venue.

Though obviously inspired by the works of Tolkien, other lyrical and thematic inspiration come to Wind Rose from games such as World of Warcraft, Warhammer, Dungeons & Dragons and Minecraft. It's therefore no surprise that cheers of delight came to be with performances of "Mine Mine Mine!", "The Battle of the Five Armies", and the much beloved cover of "Diggy Diggy Hole" - originally made famous by Minecraft players turned YouTube sensations Yogscast.

With crowd surfers taking flight throughout the entire set, one had to wonder as closer "I Am the Mountain" came to an end how the staff at Toad's Place would have enough steam in them for another event after this performance. But for the Wind Rose legion, surely the night could have gone on for many more hours before anyone was ready to tap out.

Thanking their fans one last time as they left the stage, the still raised inflatable hammers were both a sign of respect and a hope for a return of Wind Rose back to New Haven in the near future.

Ticket and photo pass courtesy of Freeman Promotions



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