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4 stars This IS Winter Madness

Wow, I did not expect to see Wintersun in the Prog Archives, let alone that no one reviewed them. I might as well start my reviewing career on this one.

This is an amazing album that is full of power, beautiful melodies, and a dark, wintery feel. It's neat that as you progress through the album, each song is longer than the previous one. But don't be turned off from the early songs because they're short, Beyond the Dark Sun's intro (and really the whole song) will blow your mind ten times over. All of the longer tracks really have periods where they change up the music and divide it into small movements, the best example of this is Starchild. The last two songs are also his heaviest, Beautiful Death and Sadness and Hate really pack more of a punch than the rest of the album combined.

Jari does a solid job in his first solo album away from Ensiferum. I'm not amazed by his vocals, but it's suitable and very entergetic, fits the album. You won't be wowed by them, but you won't be disappointed. His guitar playing is top-notch, speed everywhere with some great sounds coming from his guitar. I just love the intro to Death and the Healing, something only he could have done. The production really makes the guitar stand out crisp and clear on every song, and it's just the way it should be, really defines the sound.

If you're a fan of Ensiferum or you want to hear some of the best progressive melodic death metal, go for this. It's not as progressive as some other stuff you'll find in this category so I don't give this a 5 thumbs up, but it deserves a solid four. If you have the money and you happen to get your hands on this, it will not disappoint. Look out for the next album, Time, sometime later this year.

4 Stars, absolutely brilliant work.

Report this review (#107744)
Posted Wednesday, January 17, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars 4.5 stars.

I'd certainly not thought of WINTERSUN as a Progressive metal band before noticing the band's inclusion here, but after a fair bit of thought I began to see it. This music follows on nicely from Jari Maenpaa's previous outfit, the well regarded folk/viking metal band ENSIFERUM. This album follows a more "melodic death metal" approach but keeps the music in a heavily epic direction and retains much of the Scandinavian folk influences left over from Jari's previous band. These influences take more of a back seat though, and "come and go" within the songs based on when Jari presumably feels they fit.

It's not a hugely technical instrumental workout, as prog metal is often associated with being but manages to be pleasantly complex with many well developed recurring themes defining each song. The main format of each song involves setting down semi catchy (I say this because they can take several listens to "reveal" themselves, but once they do...) melodic themes to define each song and that are then elaborated into the flowing and rich forms the songs take. Although maybe a cliché to use, it really does create a cold feel of winter through its use of melody and "icy" vocals which are of the raspy growl/scream hybrid often used by viking/folk bands. To achieve such a genuine and diverse feel, WINTERSUN has gone that little bit further to subtly weave a complicated and exploratory tapestry full of overwhelming atmopshere that just pushes it over the border into prog metal territory. Dynamics and shifts are also more well developed and studied than in many other similar bands.

It doesn't initially appear to be too far removed from the majority of existing viking/folk and melodic death metal scenes, but persistent listening will prove rewarding as the effort put in to make this one a little different becomes apparent. The start of the album is deceptive as the few shorter numbers do give way to its main focus on slower burning tunes with lots of atmospheric build ups that will certainly be more appealing to a progmetalhead. It's not full on prog by any means, but still may be very much of interest.

Report this review (#149548)
Posted Thursday, November 8, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The new band by the former frontman in the finnish metal band Ensiferium Jari Maenpaa is quite the experience. A very symphonic euro power/ black metal album. The speed and rawness in the vocal department of black metal and the symphonic and classical inspired elements from european power metal. The raw vocals ( there are clean ones too) are not too bad though, they remind me of Jeff Walker from Carcass.

The album is basically split between fast ( and I mean really FAST) songs and slower bombastic ones. Fans of Rhapsody/ Rhapsody of Fire or Dragonforce that can tolerate death/ black vocals will love this record. It´s just as grand and majestic as anything from those bands. Nothing is subtle or hinted at in these songs. You get a massive wall of sound when you put on Wintersun. Lots of things go on in every song, in that respect you can also compare Wintersun to Blind Guardian´s A Night at the Opera.

I don´t think fans of black metal will find it very enjoyable though, as it is probably way too soft and melodic. The prog metal tendencies are mostly in the structure of the songs as the overall sound is still that of power metal.

All instruments are played by Jari Maenpaa, except for the drums which are played by Kai "The Grinder" Hahto. Both do a spendid job and deserve recognition as technically brilliant musicians for their playing on this album.

All in all this is a Power metal album gone black. I enjoyed it tremendously, but I do get a little tired of the style after a while, so this is a solid 3 stars album( 3.5).

Report this review (#150450)
Posted Tuesday, November 13, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars 4.5 Stars

This album is the brainchild of the former Ensiferum front man Jari Maenpaa, created singlehandedly, except the drums by Kai The Grinder Hahto. Many have compared the band to Children of Bodom or Ensiferum. Many fans of those types of bands would enjoy Wintersun, but few proggers would enjoy those other bands for being prog. However, Wintersun can be enjoyed for being prog. The album is based on Jari's hallucinations, dreams, experiences, life, and concepts. In this album, Jari creates some of the greatest melodies I have heard yet. This album should appeal to a range from Power metal to viking to prog metal audience. Almost all of the dongs are rooted in a 3/4 meter sometimes changing to 4/4 and boarding 6/8.

The songs:

Beyond the Dark Sun:

A short song of 2 minutes and 38 seconds, Do not be fool into believing the entire album is like this song. It is an opener (not a filler) to attract the audience. The song follows a sound linking it to power metal with double bass drum rolls and thrashy second guitar with a rushing melodic first. Not exactly the most proggy of songs, but definitely an enjoyable song to get you in the mood of the album. The music video for this song can give you an idea of the talent behind the musicians. Hahto can be seen giving an impressive show drumming with incredible precision using almost nothing but his wrists, ankles and forelegs, leaving his upper torso unbelievably still.

Winter Madness:

A song of epic speed, rushing through faster than any DragonForce song. The song does not come across as prog unless listened to closely. Meter change, extended solos, technical skill, song structure, are all contributions towards it mostly progressive nature.

Sleeping Stars:

This song takes a step back, leading the beginning with a slower instrumental changing instrument speed between slow and fast with an atmospheric quality created by the slow, folkish chant and supporting keyboard. The song picks up entering the main vocals and intermittent clean backing vocals. This song is the most Scandinavian folk influenced of all on the album. The song is ended by the slow chord progression of keyboard strings that overall drives the song. This song incorporates a greater emotional feel without loosing it integrity of technical ability.

Battle Against Time:

This song immediately starts with a fast paced melody with folk chanting. Jari makes the first line of the song a subtle clean sound that introduces a sensation of adventure into the musical excitement within the song. Thus the song does indeed take you on an adventure of battle and internal struggle and succeeds in taking you into the world created by Jari. This song holds up the sound introduced in this album but has the sense of a battle against time

Death and the Healing:

One of the greatest tracks to ever be introduced into the world of progressive metal. Completely a ballad of epic proportion and melody.The beauty of this song expresses the magic within the lyrics. The lyrics speak of denouement and rising from the ashes to be greater than before. The melody that accompanies these lyrics draw you into a state of majesty and awe. I never experienced a song quite like this, complementary guitars working with the bass, drums, and clean deep vocals to create what amounts to a scene of snowcapped mountains rising above the clouds. The song picks up some speed in the middle allowing an incredibly musical solo of sheer beauty and great contrast within the song. The lyrics are personification of Jari's personal view of his experiences and dreams. If there were any reason to buy this album, that song alone would be it.


A change of pace from the slower Death and the Healing, This song tells a speedy, yet changing song of the inner workings of a humans imagination and all of its possibilities. A single song split into several subsections but all on one track. The song uses many changes of vocal styles between clean and rasping growls. The soul of this song is in the melody, a majestic sound to say the least. The sections change speed and melody but never loosing the core of the song. The keyboard maintains the majestic, starry, theater like feel. The melodies within this song create the sensation which complements the lyrics perfectly.

Beautiful Death:

Perhaps one of the least favorable song on this album, having a greater sound similar to that of black metal and thrash metal. This song has long rolls of double bass drum and thrashing guitars. Lacking the first guitar melody throughout much of the song, the keyboard picks up the slack dropped by the usual first guitar. It also contains a more prominent black metal vocal part than the other songs but still has clean vocals, if darker than the rest. Still an enjoyable song, layered almost as progressively as the others. Considerably more dissonant than all of the other songs on this album. It emanates the title quite effectively. In the end, a male operatic voice haunts the background until fading out with a depressed sounding clean guitar solo.

Sadness and Hate:

My favorite (and final) song on the album, spanning ten minutes. The beginning starts with a clean guitar opening riff introducing the melody. After a minute the distorted guitar, bass, keyboards and drums kick in giving the song its power and true strength. A rasping growl sets an atmospheric setting to the beautiful melody. The instrumental section continues for a few minutes until the vocals enter to tell the story. The harsh vocals continue for a short time until reentering an instrumental section. The instrumental parts are quite large and changing significantly between heavy and clean guitars and are masterfully combined. A much more atmospheric song the most of the others and clean vocal section in the middle creates a beautiful sound blending perfectly with said atmosphere. The variety within this song truly stands out among this albums songs. This song ends with a the keyboard once again playing a slowed version of the main chord progression. Quite a pleasing way to end the album

In conclusion, this album warrants any progressive metal listener's attention and careful consideration. It combines black/viking/clean metal vocals with the soaring melodies and speed of power metal and folkish, majestic atmosphere, and the technical prowess of much progressive metal. All of these considered create a overall well rounded and relatively unique sound. Wintersun is a one of a kind band with no equal despite any bands to which you may compare them.

Report this review (#177134)
Posted Thursday, July 17, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album is an amazing album. This album is a prog masterpiece, and a masterpiece of melodic death metal. The music is technical and beautiful. The lyrics are anything but shallow, and are also beautiful. As soon as you turn the album, you are instantly assaulted by the brief yet amazing Beyond the Dark Sun sucks you in like a massive black hole. After that, you will hear the aptly named Winter Madness. After that song, sings start to cool down a bit with Sleeping Stars. The best song on this album is without a doubt Death and the Healing which opens with a slow guitar solo, and gets heavy after that. This songs lyrics are perhaps the best I have ever heard. I recommend this to all prog fans, metalhead or not.
Report this review (#177298)
Posted Saturday, July 19, 2008 | Review Permalink
2 stars Cheese, permafrost and metal

This album is boring as hell, but it has its moments and that is why i am giving it a two star grade instead of an one star grade: i like to worth everything that is in an album. However this one don't have too many qualities to number, but an one star seemed unfair anyway. Actually, i have never thought i would have been so turned off by an extreme metal album ever.

Before i start my review i like to be clear about 1 thing: i like extreme metal and power metal (well, at least good extreme metal and power metal) and this album seems to bring the worst of the two worlds: the repetitive riffs of black / death metal on a 5 minute song that should have only 2-4 minutes top; the 'epic' overdubbed vocals (à lá Blind Guardian) are completely out of place and the raw growling vocals easily outshines the 'epic' vocals in most tracks; the restless and aggressive black metal drums also ruin the 'epic' feeling. This album feels like a bad mixture of Blind Guardian, Dragonforce and the Immortal album At the heart of Winter.

As i said before, there are good things. The clear tracks (the ones that are not 'extreme'), like Death and the Healing and Sleeping Stars are really good power metal inspired songs. Maybe if they kept the 'clear' songs and threw away the more 'aggressive' songs this album would have been much better. Also the keyboards do a great job creating an atmosphere, a feeling to the songs.

After all, this band is actually the side project of the finnish musician Jari Mäenpää and should be faced as one: an album destined to fans of Jari Mäenpää. Its even hard to believe that this kind of music made its way to the archives, when its really melodic death / black metal with an epic touch, and bands alike did not. Listen it only if like this genre of metal, with an epic touch.

Best tracks are: Death and the Healing, Sleeping Stars and Sadness and Hate. If you listen to these tracks you will see that there is potential here, but they are the exception and not the rule.

Report this review (#178221)
Posted Saturday, July 26, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars 3.5; A very decent debut album!

Like others on this site, I never would have really expected to see Wintersun here, but as I think about it and analyze the music a bit, I can definitely see it as progressive music. Basically, it is a good blend of power and folk/viking metal with black metal vocals (and not much else being black metal, really). This album was forged through the efforts of two very competent and skilled metal musicians, Jari Maenpaa (former Ensiferum member; he did folk/power metal with them as well) doing literally all of the writing and playing all of the instruments, save the drums covered by Kai Hahto, aka The Grinder. And man can he grind! But yes, the folk element is quite prominent, and unlike other folk-power metal bands, the folk elements are blended quite well with the power, which all blend nicely with the black metal vocals.

This album is probably best thought for it's individual tracks, which I noticed are in order of song length from shortest to longest, and that would seem intentional, probability-wise. As well, the songs, in my opinion, get better as the album spins (except for Beautiful Death, which isn't too great), the first few not being all too pleasing to me, building up to some great songs. However, the entire album, from start to finish, is all very well written, and some songs came out much better than others in the end. There are great melody lines abound throughout (some are simply incredible - especially in the lead guitar), as well as decent guitar solos and riffs, and the keyboard adds a lot to the folk atmosphere, as well as the viking chants. The musicianship is astounding, especially considering everything but drums is being played and recorded by one person! The weakest thing in that department is probably Jari's clean vocals, which are at least decent.

I feel everything good in this album (besides Jari's quality black metal vocals) can be found in Death and the Healing, easily my favorite song on the album; powerful folk elements with the chants, keyboard and lyrics, and the melodies are absolutely amazing, and work perfectly with the guitar riff underneath. It really is a magical song, and Jari uses clean vocals throughout the song. Starchild and Sadness and Hate were both excellent songs too. Some have commented that this album is best when it is on the softer and especially the slower parts, and I'd be very inclined to agree with that. It seems like in the faster songs get overbearing in their noisiness; what I mean is the combination of really fast and heavy guitar, combined with the black metal vocals and double bass drum all going faster than anything even Dragonforce has made give the sound a very harsh timbre (especially with Winter Madness, which is still a decent song), one of the main reasons for the rating. That could easily be my own musical taste though.

While I feel this is quite a strong album by an obviously strong artist, I would mainly suggest this album to those with a taste for (speedy) power metal, harsh vocals, and anyone in the metal department who is dying for something quite interesting, fresh, and well produced. I could see a decent prog music collection without this album easily, but it is definitely a good addition nonetheless. I think this is a band with a lot of potential and may come out with some killer albums in the future, which I very much look forward to.

Report this review (#178384)
Posted Tuesday, July 29, 2008 | Review Permalink
The T
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars WINTERSUN's first and only album wears its influences with pride. But it's anyone's guess if the mixing of two different worlds into one sonic experience will please most fans of both power/symphonic metal and extreme/black metal.

On one hand, WINTERSUN sounds a little like a power-metal band, straight from the land of groups like RHAPSODY OF FIRE: fast songs with even faster guitar solos, lots of keyboards and thunderous double- bass drums. The album has a certain epic feel to it that definitely makes the link with power-metal even stronger. But for fans of the genre, a word of caution has to be said: this is not power metal. It has many elements of it, it's been influenced by it, but this is, primarily, something else.

On the other hand, the vocals will immediately tell any listener that this record has a strong connection with black metal, with high-shrieking guttural vocals that reminds us of bands like IMMORTAL. The black-metal-side of the music is definitely even more evident than the power-metal side, as not only the vocals but also the music, with tremolo-picking sections and really heavy passages, takes us directly to Scandinavia. WINTERSUN, being from that part of the world, carries the extreme-cold sound in their veins. A band I was constantly reminded of was a Swedish black-metal band that should've been more famous than it was when it was active, DISSECTION. But for fans of the genre, caution again: the music, dark yet inviting, evil yet heroic, is not your typical black-metal. Add some AMORPHIS to the mix of ingredients that I've given you and by now you may start to have a clearer idea of what WINTERSUN is and if it may appeal to your taste.

The musicianship is excellent. The album was recorded by just two individuals: Kai Hahto in drums, doing a terrific job, and mastermind Jari Maenpaa on every other instrument, shining in all of them especially in the guitars where he manages to evoke the virtuosism of master-shredders like Luca Turilli. It's a good thing that, on the musicianship-side of things, WINTERSUN owes more to the virtuosic school of European power metal than to the as-raw-as-possible-style of Norwegian black metal.

And it's that ingredient what ultimately makes WINTERSUN an album worth getting and hearing. By combining the good elements of two in theory very different genres, Jari Maenpaa has created music that should appeal to any prog-metal and metal fan. For those in the extremes, though, this will be harder to swallow, as it will be too-extreme for a power-metal band and too-heroic for a black-metal one.

4 stars. I hope we can hear more of Maenpaa's music in the future, as only one album of this good music is not enough.

Report this review (#185257)
Posted Friday, October 10, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars A brilliant album by Jari Maenpaa and Kai Hahto. Perhaps one of my favorite albums, Wintersun offers a great deal the the extreme prog metal genre. Wintersun combines folk and power metal with progressive atmospheres.

In this album Jari shows off his technical abilities, such as exceptional skill in sweeping, in the very start of the album with Beyond the Dark Sun and Winter Madness. Drummer Kai "The Grinder" Hahto does a fantastic job and holds up to his nickname. However, the main point in this album is not their technical abilities but rather the sound-scapes and emotions they conjure with their wonderful atmospheres.

Sleeping Stars, is a slower song that builds up over time, beginning with a instrument-by-instrument build, then a low level chanting, then the growls come in and the song. This song portrays the mental romanticism of a majestic universe as if one were a star, with both beauty and the fierce nature of a fiery star.

Battle Against time follows the same idea, though a completely different song; this song starts out speedy and driving, but retains the concept of utilizing keyboards, clean vocal harmonies, and progressively, black metal vocals to create a depiction of a persons inner rage and battle against their death.

Death and the Healing, probably one of the three best songs on the album, slow, , melodic, bombastic. It entirely clean vocals, something of a viking metal style (deep, rhythmic, not very spanning in range, e.i. something you think a viking might sing). This song is predominately a scound-scape, allowing the listener to visualize the imagery within the lyrics and music, things such frozen mountains, death and rebirth, etc.

Starchild changes modes to a fast-paced song that is divided into (small) suites. This song follows a third-person view of a omnipotent child trying to understand themselves and the universe(s) that they create. Yet another song depicting space and its majestic beauty as a whole, from stars, to the very vastness of the universe.

Beautiful Death is probably the weakest song, though effectively conjures emotions of bleakness and peace.

Sadness and Hate, my preferred song on this album, they story remains unclear to me, but the music brings me to believe this is about the lost love of a man who left for a long time, and now he rages towards, and loves her. Musically the strongest and, imo, the most enjoyable. This is one of the three best songs on the album with Death and the Healing and Starchild.

Biggest flaws are Beautiful Death, and that the album does not flow due to that fact that it is organized song-by-song by length (shortest to longest)

Overall, A beautiful album that would appeal greatly to fans of progressive power, folk, black, progressive, and atmospheric metal that use sound-scapes. I would recommend this as a must listen to everyone but do not guarantee you will like it; it isn't for everyone.

Report this review (#218797)
Posted Friday, May 29, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars Wintersun is a pretty interesting album from a metal standpoint. While it combines the speed and melodicism of power metal with the harshness and intensity of black metal, it also manages to twist in a few folk-influenced melodies and a couple progressive flashes. However, for fans of purely progressive music, they might find their minds wandering a bit. No doubt that there are plenty of progressive elements in the album: The songs are clearly structured beyond standard songwriting and there are a couple of time signature changes that are used to spice things up in plenty of power metal, along with sharp and speedy guitar lines. Virtuosity aside though, this album could easily be seen as a standard metal release.

There are tons of good points to the album though. For one thing, the energy is pretty constant through the album. Even in the more ballad-esque tracks that are pretty standard in power metal releases the drums keep the track flowing and the melodies keep moving. Jari Mäenpää, the guitarist and central focus of the album keeps his guitar blisteringly fast and his vocals are either a woeful black shriek or a bellowing and haunting clean tone reminding the listener of the sorrow and melancholy feeling of winter. All in all, the elements combine to create an enjoyable work.

As an extreme power metal release, Wintersun stands as an excellent choice, and many fans of extreme and melodic metal will be sure to come across it. However, prog listeners may find a lot of the tracks too similar, even though the compositions are all good. Progressiveness is not the main focus of the album, it is biting yet melodic metal to portray the bitter atmosphere of a dark winter in the blistering cold, which Wintersun excels at.

Report this review (#220876)
Posted Saturday, June 13, 2009 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
4 stars 'Wintersun' - Wintersun (7/10)

Arising to the attention of the metal world for his work in folk metal band Enisferum, singer and multi instrumentalist Jari Maenpaa already had a loyal fanbase before 'Wintersun' was released. With little idea what they would receive, the fans eagerly anticipated. While Wintersun is certainly more than a meager extension of the previous band, there are definately many of the things here, that gave Enisferum their fierce fanbase to begin with. Folk and power metal abounds here, with a little bit more heaviness than a typical metal fan may expect of either genre. What makes Wintersun and this debut so noteworthy is that it melds styles that surprisingly rarely cross in the metal scene.

While melodic power metal is generally thought to be something that's left to the whims of operatic dropouts and screechers in the style of Rob Halford, Maenpaa takes the speed and technical considerations of the aforementioned style, and couples it with many traits one might expect from black metal. Blackened screams and heavy-as-hell guitar riffage seems to work magically with the generally lighter lead playing and harmonies.

The album flow of 'Wintersun' seems to be very much relient on a 'shortest-to-longest' format. Over the course of the album (which almost hits the hour mark) one begins to notice that the songs get longer and longer, going from a vicious two minute introduction to a drawn out and frostbitten epic finale that tops the ten minute mark. While this might be an interesting gag, it can make for an uneven feeling of flow along the way. However, 'Wintersun' is the sort of album that is better based on the quality of the songs themselves rather than the overall product.

Besides the drums, this is Jari's show completely. He writes all of the music, and performs all of the instruments except the percussion, which is played skillfully in a black metal style by Kai Hahto. For anyone that is not a fan of speed in heavy metal, it is better to skip by this one. 'Wintersun' blows the doors off in terms of tempo, and more often than not, things are racing by at lightspeed with blastbeats, and fastly picked guitar melodies. This is an area of the music that is completely subjective however. The transitions from the heavy to lighter portions of music can be very rough at times, but the band's emphasis on heaviness in their power metal blend is very refreshing to my ears.

While it is enjoyable to listen to such a powerful and energetic album, it can feel at points like there should be more variety. Throughout, it feels like very similar riffs are being used; and Maenpaa (while being a gifted metal guitarist) is pulling out the same tricks over and over again and expecting it to be just as impressive. All things considered however, this is a very competent debut album, and with a new highly anticipated Wintersun album arriving to shelves late in 2010, the sound of great potential is heard even more in this music.

Report this review (#293638)
Posted Friday, August 6, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars This being originally a side project from Ensiferium nut job, Jari Mäenpää, it was suprisingly better than most of Enisferums stuff (sorry guys haha).

This album was suprisingly incredibly epic, with some amazing vocals, pheonomanal instrumental work and drumming from the depths of hell. And it is very impressive that everything was done just by 2 guys.

Now, their second album Time, has been been in the process of being made, and to be honest, I don't think it will be released at all, and if it is released, it'd just be another Chinese Democracy (which I thought was a pretty decent album, no doubt)

1. Beyond The Dark Sun - This is the song that got me into this band, especially the video. I learning how to play that arrpeggio section, I was so proud of myself. Just amazing. 10/10

2. Winter Madness - Outstanding instrumental work. Great kick ass song. The instrumental songs make this song what it is. 9/10

3. Sleeping Stars - A slower and more melancholic mood. Quite eerie but surprisingly beautiful. 8/10

4. Battle Against Time - What fierce drumming. Great frantic riffing and an epic chorus. 9/10

5. Death & The Healing - This is actually the keyboardist of my band's (her name is Cathy, remember that) favourite song. I remember listening to this song with her on a bus to Belfast one day. The instrumental sections remind me of early Satyricon. Great chorus and beautiful lyrics. Love the japanese influences. This song does have some amazing guitar work. 10/10

6. Starchild - The vocals remind me of Devin Townsend. What an epic song. Best song on the abum. The instrumetal work is flawless as usual. Amazing chorus. 10/10

7. Beautiful Death - Almost sounds identical to Children Of Bodom. You can tell that he's playing an Ibanez and has put in onto the middle pick up (I get the same sound on my Ibanez). Amazing ending. 9/10

8. Sadness & Hate - Very Enisferum (I wonder why). Great build up, very battle metal. 8/10

CONCLUSION: Just a great album. Can't wait for Time (but I will have to wait, a very long time, haha)

Report this review (#294266)
Posted Thursday, August 12, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars There are only a few bands that already have a legendary status after their debut album. The stunning legacy and mystery that already surrounds the band's future output "Time" that has been delayed over and over again and seems to be a very one of the most epic, complex and complicated albums that have ever been created in the metal universe is comparable to the story of Guns 'n' Roses' "Chinese Democracy". That's why I wanted to take a closer look on this band and I must admit that the hype is exagerated.

"Wintersun" deliver dark and very epic folk metal and their album goes from the shortest to the longest track. The musical and lyrical directions in general remind a lot of the Finnish metal legends "Ensiferum" and other folk metal bands like "Tyr" while the epic constructions are inspired by older bands with epic sounds such as the inventors of Viking Metal that are "Bathory" but they also take some bits and pieces from rather modern epic melodic death or folk metal bands such as "Children Of Bodom" or "Equilibrium". ´

While this mixture is not truly original or innovating, the band proves that they are great and ambitious musicians and create diversified mixtures of all those influences. The main prioblem in here is that they exagerate a little bit and put sometimes too many overwhelming elements in their sound which is also a problem I have with bands such as "Blind Guardian" or "Rhapsody Of Fire". Instead of remaining and focussing on a great melody they put too many ideas in one single song and that's sometimes a little bit hard to digest and asks several tries and a lot of attention. Technically, this band is brilliant and honours their multiple influences but the songwriting could be starighter and more coherent. Sometimes, I'm losing them in the longer songs and they don't get down to earth and to the point even if every song has some good ideas from long and epic narrative passages to violent melodic death metal parts.

This diversity only works completely well in the shortest piece of the record which is "Beyond The Dark Sun" and the band already puts ideas in this short and sweet song of two and a half minutes that other bands would put in three songs of about five minutes: power metal guitar riffs and keyboard interludes that remind of "Stratovarius", epic narrative passages that remind of "Bathory", catchy death metal vocals that remind of "Children Of Bodom", slight folk tale melodies that use abnds such as "Equilibrium" and a general atmosphere that is similar to the first two albums of "Ensiferum". The track is though shorte nough top remain catchy and addictable which isn't the case for the longer and longer tracks that put three times as much ideas in almost ten minutes of music.

There is one single exception on this album which is the last song called "Sadness And Hate" that takes some time to focus on an epic and majestic atmosphere, simple but addicting melodies and a fascinating story with interesting lyrics. This best song is a great closure for the record and I hope that the band will create more epic songs in that style on their fortchcoming record.

In the end we have a very ambitious, epic and diversified record here that aims very high but that is too overwhelming, creatiev and megalomaniac at some points. While every song is interesting and has great passages, the tracks as a whole are sometimes hectical, confusing and simply frustrating. The shortest and the longest track represnet the two extremes and how the band should and could work in the future to create catchier tunes. Sometimes, less is more and structure and patience is better than exagerated intellectuality and pressure. For the next record, the abnd took a lot of time and I hope they trained their focus to elaborate their songs slower and further at the same time. Nevertheless, anybody that likes the bands I have all mentioned above will appreciate the record at least as much as a critical person like me and probably even more so that I can only suggest to give this record a try. This is surely on a way better level than other folk metal bands such as "Alestorm", "Swashbuckle" or "Eluveitie". If you happen to like epic folk metal but you find this stuff too hard I can suggest you to try out the latest albums of "Tyr", "Turisas" and maybe "Heljareyga".

Originally published on on June 5th of the year 2011.

Report this review (#508384)
Posted Wednesday, August 24, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars "Nothing can never take away, what I've seen with these tired eyes"

The idea of capturing the cold and darkness - of a country that sees less light and more cold winters than others - is an appealing endeavour. Most Norwegian black metal bands have gone to hell and back to acquire this essence, but sometimes have fallen to the traps of politics and religion that are needlessly laid on the table, forsaking the only thing that is relevant in the first place: the music.

With his first album, Jari Mäenpää shows what Finnish Metal is capable of, and furthermore, he establishes an ultimatum to melodic extreme metal: this album is the border; if you want to create something as Nordic and beautiful at the same time, you will have to challenge the juggernaut, Wintersun.

If you are not into extreme metal, and the growls and screams that go with it, I still urge you to listen to the track Death and The Healing, as not only is it sung with a clean melodic voice, it also captures the Finnish winter: white, stark and beautiful.


Report this review (#1370407)
Posted Thursday, February 19, 2015 | Review Permalink

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