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Wintersun - Time I CD (album) cover

TIME I

Wintersun

 

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

3.70 | 78 ratings

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AndyJ
3 stars Wintersun's 'Time I' had a very long and, some fans might argue, torturous path to being released. It took the band over 8 years to get this record out after their hugely successful self titled release from 2004. I remember buying their self titled album when it was first released and being utterly blown away by the musicianship on display. It was enough to make me want to burn my guitar and eat the ashes - such was the talent of the guitar playing on that record. I was in such awe of Jari Maenpaa that he quickly displaced both Michael Romeo and Jeff Loomis as my guitar hero and favourite heavy metal musician.

But 8 years is a long time to wait for a follow up album. The delays in recording and releasing this album stemmed from the fact that Wintersun were (and still are) a small, relatively unheard of progressive metal band with only a small following. Nuclear Blast, their record label, understandably didn't want to commit the advance of money that it was going to take to produce 'Time I'. The production standards and absurdly high level of electronic orchestration that the Wintersun front-man and lead composer, Jari Maenpaa, wanted to put into the 'Time I' album were beyond the financial reach of the band, and also beyond their technical reach. Simply put the computer technology at the time just couldn't keep up with all of the VST synths that Jari wanted on each track. His reach exceeded his grasp on the technical side of things.

But it didn't stop them - it just took the band a lot longer to record and produce 'Time I' than it should have done. So, was it worth the wait? We've had 'Time I' for a few years now (at the time of writing this review) and its an album which has received a lot of attention from me. But I can't help thinking is this really 8 years worth of material? After all the disc length is only 40 minutes, and there are only 3 lengthy songs on the album. And really there are only two excellent songs and one, dare I say it, fairly average song, at least by Wintersun standards.

The opening 20 minutes of music, specifically the tracks 'When Time Fades Away' and 'Sons Of Winter And Stars' are utterly sublime. The last 10 minutes of music with the track 'Time' is equally great. But somewhere in the middle of the album it loses me a little bit.

So what about the music? Well, we have highly orchestral progressive death metal with an oriental twist. The album is utterly polished, which doesn't surprise me considering how fastidious the band have been in recording this album. The production is good, if a little sterile at times, but everything is in its place. There are a lot of layers to this album, a lot of synths and under-currents of melody which aren't apparent upon the first few listens. This is an album which takes time to absorb and learn. In the vein of other progressive death metal bands there are a mixture of extreme metal vocals, screams and cleanly sung parts. No disrespect to Jari Maenpaa but I consider him a better guitarist than a vocalist.

Wintersun told us at the time of release that this album would be the first of a two-parter, and that we couldn't judge this one without hearing the second part. But as of mid-2015 we have no signs of the second part to this so we have to judge it on its own. Its good, polished, highly technical and progressive. But when I think it took 8 years to produce I have to wonder is this the best it could have been? This is definitely somewhere between 3 and 4 stars. I think I'll round it down to 3 stars. Don't get me wrong, I love this album, but any more than 3 stars would be too many.

AndyJ | 3/5 |

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