If you would have told us at the start of the year one of our favorite metalcore albums of 2018 was going to come out of Hanoi, Vietnam, we’re pretty sure we wouldn’t have believed you. Fast-forward nearly 12 months later and here we are about to gush over one of our newest obsessions, Windrunner.
Recently signed to Famined Records, the female-fronted five-piece is a technically proficient act combining elegant clean melodies with pummeling, face-melting brutality. Incorporating Asian influence and storytelling throughout their newest album MAI, Windrunner is a much-needed authentic addition to the sometimes stagnant heavy music scene.
Sounding like a combination of Crystal Lake and Spiritbox, the young Vietnam outfit certainly have a bright and promising future ahead of them. And today, to help celebrate the release of their brand new album MAI and prove just how much they have to offer the metalcore community, The Noise is giving fans an exclusive look into the band’s 11-track LP via an in-depth track-by-track rundown.
To check out the eye-opening stories behind MAI as told by the band themselves, be sure to look below. Afterward, make sure to grab a copy of the sensational new release here.
This track sets the stage for the theme of the album, perseverance. “Mulan” is the realization and acknowledgment of one’s weaknesses, problems and “dark” side, realizing that life isn’t all fun and games. Good and bad, light and dark, go together and there are always two sides to everything. Rather than ignoring these problems, we should understand and strive to overcome the hard and bad things life throws at us and never give up. We chose the magnolia flower (Mulan) to represent this concept because while it is very beautiful and symbolizes purity and elegance, it is also a very resilient flower that can withstand the forces of nature.
“Oleander” continues where “Mulan” left off. After we realize those problems, we then have to tackle them. The song also plays around with the concept of reincarnation, in that humans have long created different versions of this concept through different religions and spiritual beliefs, as a way to prevent people from doing bad things in life, for fear of punishment in the next one. Rather than subconsciously relying on this fear, we should actively seek to build and exercise good deeds on our own. The mind lives forever while we take on a new body in each life and the chorus is actually the mind speaking to the body.
“Sakura” is a more personal track. People can come into your life and go through a lot with you which makes you feel like those relationships will last forever and that those are the special ones. But we have to accept that we all have different paths to walk, so we have to embrace the memories and move on even though it hurts to know we grew apart and became strangers. The sakura flower is very beautiful but, at the same time, very fragile, so it perfectly represents the theme of the song.
“Marigold” is a special song about Vietnamese ancestral worshiping rituals. It portrays the scene of said rituals, with the burning incense and prayers, as we look for hope and strength to find the way forward. Marigold is often used in these rituals as an offering of respect and remembrance to our ancestors. The screamed vocals are from our mortal perspective, while the clean vocals portray the voices of our ancestors delivering blessings upon us and expressing sympathy as they were once mortals and experienced the same sufferings as us and know that one day we will also become ancestors.
This track is about finding solace in solitude, as an orchid tends to blossom alone, usually in cold weather. We might feel lost and insignificant in this world trying to make sense of it and navigate our way through it as best as we can. Struggling or being overwhelmed is inevitable, just like feeling alone. But we need to remember that even though we feel like there’s no one else, we are never really alone, just lonely, and we must have faith and keep moving forward.
“Dahlia” is an instrumental track that depicts the scene of a warrior who goes rogue and betrays his corrupted community and then commits suicide. The instrumentals convey the grief and chaos felt by this warrior. It actually is sort of a fictitious rendition of a real story, which is further explained in the next song.
While “Dahlia” is based on the brother’s perspective (the warrior), “Mai” is based on the sister’s. This song examines what we define as love based on a personal story about the loss of a family member. While we might think we love someone deeply and want the world for that person, we sometimes don’t stop and think whether it’s what that person really wants. At times what we think is love, is only our selfish expectations of a life we create for that person which only pushes our loved one further away from us. It isn’t until we’ve lost each other that we realize how important it is to take care of and understand one another.
“Cedar” continues where “Mai” left off, where the sister finally understands the brother’s ways and decides to carry his torch in fighting for the good. People can be greedy and superficial, but we need to remember that everything we do now will come at a price in the future. This song aims to deliver a message of being a good and kind person. “Cedar” is the only song title that does not reference a flower and it means to represent growth. The cedar tree in Vietnamese culture also symbolizes perseverance itself, and at the same time, the respect for the legacy of our ancestors.
“Rose” was written about how we can be scared to chase our dreams and how we choose what is already known and comfortable even though it might not be what we really want because we’re afraid of the unknown. Because of that, we don’t take chances and are left wondering what if. It is important to live in the present instead of the past, to look ahead rather than back and to keep chasing your dreams rather than living a safe and comfortable life that might not make you happy after all.
This song is about trying to help someone you care about while they’re going through a tough time. It breaks your heart to know that the person puts on masks and lies to face us and it’s even worse when it feels like there is nothing we can do to help. After that, all that’s left are the past memories of a happier time when there is nothing else left to do.
“Lotus” is about how we are slaves to the modern media, about how we’re under pressure from social media and keep being judged by toxic people who don’t even care about us on the internet. It can hurt, whether the words come from a friend or a stranger, but we have to ignore that and focus on ourselves. The judgment does not mean anything, and the only thing that counts is being ourselves. In Vietnamese traditions, lotus seeds are often eaten to give clarity and strength of the mind, while also improving sleep. Also, “lotus” in Vietnamese is “sen” which is also slang for “slave”, so it’s kind of a wordplay on that too.