Thursday, October 25, 2012

Wintersun – Time I (2012) – Review

Review: The Finnish melodic death metal/folk metal band Wintersun burst onto the scene with their magnificent self-titled album in 2004 (it being one of my five favorite metal albums of all-time, the other four are: Dawn’s Slaughtersun [Crown of The Triarchy], Slayer’s South of Heaven, Opeth’s Morningrise, and At the Gates’ Slaughter of the Soul or Behind The Scenery’s …of honesty forbidden – it is too hard to choose). Fans of folk metal band Ensiferum knew Wintersun’s leader and songwriter Jari Maenpaa from his great work on the band’s first two (and best) albums before he left to start Wintersun. Maenpaa is the master of epic symphonic metal orchestrations (and a very good guitar player) and Wintersun’s debut shot to the top of many fans’ lists as a classic. Thus, his fans wanted more.

Wintersun announced they were beginning work on their second album in 2006, but due to numerous delays (including Maenpaa’s computer not being able to handle the amount of tracks he had on each song) the album, entitled Time (ironically now), kept being pushed back. And so here we are eight years later, finally there is new music from Wintersun.

Time I represents the first half of the full album (split in two because it was too big to fit on one CD), with Time II due out sometime in 2013 (we hope). Being only the first half, it does feel a little incomplete (as it should) and it is hard to really fully appreciate it without hearing how it ends. Plus, after eight years, Time I basically offers us three new songs (there are five tracks, but one is an intro and one is an interlude) – three fantastic songs, but only three songs nonetheless.

The production and musicianship is top-notch, as expected. Each song is meticulously and intricately structured and arranged. At first, I was a bit overwhelmed (especially on Sons of Winter and Stars), but as I continue to listen to the album the songs seem to become more impressive and everything falls into place. I like it more and more each time.

Time I is very different from Wintersun’s first album, as there are not any fast guitar driven songs (like Winter Madness), rather each song is a building epic full of beauty, power and emotion (and on the slower side – like Sadness and Hate). There is a sense that Maenpaa set out to make his epic genre masterpiece with this album. While it is a bit overwhelming at first and seemingly overproduced, once it is given time to all sink in, it is quite engaging musically and melodically beautiful.

Rating this album is very difficult, as again it feels incomplete. Musically, it is phenomenal and is so much more than just a metal genre album (though the harsh vocals used at times will probably scare away any casual listeners, not that there will be any). Yet, I really need to hear Time II before is proclaim it the masterpiece that it very well could be. Thus, I am tentatively giving it 4/5 until I hear the rest.

Essential Tracks:

2)      Time

Available on CD and Digital Download

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