I confess that I know very little (please wait for me to finish my sentence before agreeing…) about Vinsta. It appears to be pretty much a solo project by multi-instrumentalist Christian Höll and Vinsta’s facebook page has some really great pictures of Alpine scenery on it. Having gleaned as much as I could from there (yes, that was about it really…) it was time to move quickly on to the music, which incorporates electric and acoustic progressive folk rock/metal with moments of extreme metal here and there to spice things up and raise the unexpectancy. Vinsta’s previous album was mostly acoustic from what I gather, but this time out the music has expanded, diversified and grown to great effect.

Sound-wise, Vinsta waltz (or sit contemplating) to their own tune, but there are elements of early and very recent Vintersorg in there, echos of Opeth (the track ‘Vinsta Wiads’ in particular has a “Still Life”/”Blackwater Park” vibe to it), and occasional glimpses of Winds, Borknagar, Riverside, Fejd and Empyrium, such is the variation that even one track can hold. There are some gorgeous acoustic passages, utilizing not only guitar and strings, but solo violin, hammered dulcimer. Clean, layered vocals are included on both stand alone songs (like the beautiful, lilting atmosphere of ‘Aufgongsjodler’) or passages that merge seamlessly into sections of crisp, aggressive melodic death metal with harsh vocals. There’s an undeniable feeling that each track has a focus of journey and escapism, taking the listener along for the ride (even though the lyrics are sung in Christian’s native tongue), such is the engaging and interesting nature of the arrangements.

“Wiads” isn’t limited by style, mood, genre demands or even song length – whether it’s the reflective 1:51 of ‘Nochklong’ or the engrossing and varied 9:37 of ‘Bluatlauf’, each song is integral to the overall soundscape being created by Vinsta. It’s probably an album to be enjoyed in it’s entirety, from start to finish, to perfectly capture the entire mood rather than dip in and out. There’s some great rhythmic structure to the more Metal parts (again, ‘Vinsta Wiads’ is a great example), with accomplished guitar lines and bass work riding atop the intricate drum patterns, which highlight unexpected and interesting shifts in mood and time signatures. This is all helped by a responsive, sympathetically clear yet powerful production.

Experimental yet cohesive, varied yet structured, aggressive yet mellow, Vinsta really do manage to capture whichever mood they set out to conquer. Much thought, planning and feeling has gone into this release and this shows time and time again within each track. There is a freedom to “Wiads” that is hard to accomplish but Vinsta seem to do it with grace, professionalism and evident ease. The album flows, swirls it’s way around you, lures you in, then smacks you in the face! It’s a journey indeed.

(7.5/10 Andy Barker)