CD Review

The Winter Chapter - "Time Of Faith"

By Marcus Pan

Time of FaithClassic darkwave - that is precisely the sound that Winter Chapter pushes toward you on their latest release, Time Of Faith. Comfortable guitar riffs, solid bass lines and bright yet eerie vocals held together with spooky yet soothing synthesizer melodies. Made up of lead singer Felix, guest guitarist Dean Owens, synth players Jeff Croall and Stacy Latta with founding bassist Steve Jennings, Winter Chapter have gained a following in their home state of California. Two EPs preceded WCs Time Of Faith full length and they consider themselves the gothic/80s influenced band. You can hear influences from the likes of Bauhaus, Sisters of Mercy, Nosferatu and just about any other original darkwave 80s rock group you can name.

Does WC take their recipe for success to a new level? Probably not - there isn't anything new or unheard of on Time Of Faith. But what they do produce is solid and standard fare that will fit in nearly any gothic/80s rotation whether it be a private party, public club or radio mix. They create well-made, well-versed and solid goth rock music from a quartet of talented musicians. It's that simple. What I enjoy most about WC is how easy they are to listen to. There are few moods I have that wouldn't benefit from a spin of Time of Faith. I can play it when I'm getting ready to hit the weekend night life, or I can play it when I come home from the same and need a chilling out and coming down period. It's an extremely versatile CD.

The Winter ChapterThe downside to taking such a common approach is that a few of the tracks here are so straight-and-narrow on the standard darkwave path that they may sound bland. They don't stand out - they're fine once they're playing, sure, but within minutes you forget the song. It just doesn't stay with you. Sounds good when it's playing, though, like I said. The only thing that I can assume is that because they stay so close to the format that's been used for two decades now, it just gets mixed away with all the other bands I remember.

The opening track of Time Of Faith is a song called Nevermore, a high-strumming, brightly-vocalized piece with SoM style guitar riffs and a fluid bassline. Felix does something unusual for a lot of the CDs I've been reviewing lately (excepting the chick-fronted bands) - he sings! He doesn't growl, doesn't grumble, doesn't whine. He sings, and does so with flair and aplomb. About goddamn time another guy sang - or maybe I'm just getting too mired in the industrial/noise genre reviews. On track 9, opening with the sound of thunder, is New Emotion. I wanted to highlight this track because I love the way the bass and the keyboards work together, complimenting each other as the song moves eerily along. I do wonder about why two keyboard players are used - that's quite unusual. Maybe one of them should pick up the guitar…from what I could tell they don't have a full time guitarist.

The Winter Chapter provide a very close rendition of the 80s darkwave and rock-pop favorites we all remember from days gone by. They've shrugged off the vox, threw out the samples and Felix went out and decided that we needed a band with a SINGer rather than a grumbler. Nothing new, but something for everyone I think. Even if The Winter Chapter don't stand out as pioneers, they at least stand among the ghosts of the old-skool greats when they play.

Contact Information:
Post: The Winter Chapter, 434 Boynton Ave #138, San Jose, CA, 95117
Phone: (408) 984-7609

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