The TIME has come! Well at least the first part anyways. It has been eight years since Wintersun arose from their snow-capped homeland of Finland with their self-titled debut album, leaving both critics and the metal community in awe of their epic fusion of melodic death and power metal. As fans eagerly awaited the next album originally scheduled for a 2007 or 08’ release, numerous delays due to a multitude of reasons continued to push back the release date until questions were being raised as to whether or not the album would ever be released at all. But after eight long years of postponement and waiting, dedicated Wintersun fans around the world are finally rewarded with a phenomenal album that meets and exceeds high expectations.
Album: Time I
Genre: Epic Metal
Label: Nuclear Blast
Release: October 22, 2012 (USA)
Man, what is it with all these incredible metal bands coming out of Finland? There must be something in the food or water over there; I don’t know how else to explain how music of such majesty can formulate inside the mind of a human being. I promised myself that I wouldn’t make this a kiss-ass fan review, but I just have to take a moment and state the obvious when I say that Jari Mäenpää is an absolute genius as well as one of the most gifted guitarists and musicians to ever walk the earth. I don’t for one minute doubt the abilities of the other musicians in this band, but Wintersun as we all know, is Jari’s show. Besides his technical brilliance, his compositional skills are what set him apart. His guitar is calm yet heavy and powerful, fast and downright furious at times. His style is dynamic and untouchable, with Time I being an ideal illustration of his great capabilities. I would also like to add that Kai Hahto, also of Rotten Sound and Swallow the Sun, is a constantly overlooked, and highly talented drummer. His technical prowess, and bombastic beats are legendary, and he does it all with a smile on his face!
The album begins with the Japanese folk influenced “When Time Fades Away,” which serves as an atmospheric interlude to the powerful “Sons of Winter and Stars.” I can’t even remember the last time I was so moved by music. No matter how many times I listen, “When Time Fades Away,” continues to send chills down my spine. It’s a divine piece of music in itself, which climaxes with a heavy symphonic section that actually brought tears to my eyes the first listen. The subtle Japanese melody infused with the deep and passionate orchestration is truly moving. And the guitars crashing in at the beginning of “Sons of Winter and Stars,” thunders the resounding clarity that Wintersun has truly arrived.
I could go on forever about the brilliance of “Sons of Winter and Stars,” which could make a strong argument as the greatest Wintersun song ever. The combination of Jari’s vocals, melodic power metal riffing, and backing symphonies is the anthem of the gods. This will without a doubt turn out to be a fantastic live song. Expect the crowd to be singing along every step of the way.
“Land of Sorrow and Snow” is interesting because it transitions to a very melancholic sound as opposing to the charging vibe of the previous track. Jari is frequently praised as a guitarist, but I’ve always felt that his vocals are overlooked. He is by no means a very technical singer, but his deep voice is very solid and conveys Wintersun’s themes of sadness with great effectiveness. This is on perfect display throughout this song, which is probably his strongest achievement in terms of clean singing. “Darkness and Frost” is yet another beautifully composed instrumental piece that paves the way for the eleven minute conclusion track, “Time.” While it may not be quite as catchy as the rest of the album, “Time” is nevertheless an epic and satisfying conclusion to a phenomenal album that features some very nice soloing from Jari as well as an extended atmospheric outro that is perfect foreshadowing for Part II, reminding us that the next chapter is not far off.
Everything about this album is perfect and everything a Wintersun fan could want. The production is outstanding, and after having listened several times, it becomes more and more apparent as to why the gap between albums was such a lengthy process. Nitpickers will of course find things to complain about. Go ahead, bitch that it doesn’t match the equivalence of its predecessor (it does), that it tries too hard to be grandiose (it doesn’t), and that it’s too short (Part II in six months people). The bottom line though, is that Wintersun has created a masterpiece. “Time I” succeeds not only as a pleasant reward to patient fans after years of waiting, but as an intriguing prequel to what should turn out to be an outstanding double album. Let’s just hope it’ll only actually be a six month wait for part 2! In the meantime, come out to see the tour with Eluveitie and the almighty Varg this December, as the sons of winter gather to see this magical spectacle of a band beneath the sleeping stars!
- When Times Fades Away
- Sons of Winter and Stars
- Rain of Stars
- Surrounded by Darkness
- Journey Inside a Dream
- Sons of Winter and Stars
- Land of Snow and Sorrow
- Darkness and Frost
- Jari Mäenpää − vocals, guitar, keyboards
- Teemu Mäntysaari − guitar
- Jukka Koskinen − bass
- Kai Hahto − drums