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Finnish metal band Wingdom offer up a bunch of progressive and melodic metal-lite on Reality that sounds an awful lot like the brand of hair metal that was popular in the U.S. in the mid- to late-'80s. (Not to mention that vocalist Sami Asp has a dramatic set of pipes that sound an awful lot like Kip Winger or very early Jon Bon Jovi.) But while they are clearly out of step and fashion with any discernible era besides the one mentioned, they should be judged here on the merits of what they're trying to achieve -- and judged within their chosen idiom (not by the dictates of hipness), they are actually pretty darn good. Wingdom show strong melodic sensibilities on the operatic, sensitive, and stormy power ballad "Where Do We Go?," while driving, stuttering synth flourishes almost push "The Essence" into electronica territory in certain passages. The wheeling keyboard flights of "Lighthouse" push the band into a late-'70s frame of reference (and into something that almost sounds like Triumph). And that points to a defining feature of the band: the ability to add progressively unpredictable touches to largely predictable music. At the end of the day, the album is evidence of a clearly talented group of musicians with strong synergy.

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