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4.3 out of 5 stars
Time I
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 22 October 2012
I think it's fair to say that Wintersun fans have waited a long time for this release. A very long time. Eight years following an outstanding debut which made many declare Wintersun a masterpiece of extreme metal, we've been waiting for this release, Jari Maenpaa's most important release of his career perhaps. The hype, as in any extended length of time following an album which astounds all who hear it, has gone through the roof then for the release of Time I and now, in October 2012, we finally have it. Does it live up to that hype? That may be up to you and your expectations, like the latest Ensiferum this may work or not work for you. But for certainly, this was unbelievable. Whilst it is far from conventional in an album sense (three songs only for 40 minutes + two instrumentals) it is just incredible in how meticulous and atmospheric every single second of this album is.

The opening instrumental "When Time Fades Away" is many things, emotional, intricate, melodic, beautiful, breathtaking and majestic all at the same time. It's one of the best instrumental openings I've ever heard on an album with a faint far Eastern tint lying beneath the orchestral work. It's a perfect intro to the album with its swaying rhythm and complexity, building up to a climax.

The first tracks ends even if you don't realize it and the soft intro continue until - the heavy stuff goes in and we get the epic to throw "Sadness and Hate" out the window both in length and in scope - "Sons of Winter and Stars" Nearly 14 minutes in length with choirs, Jari's vocal work both in his harsh and clean vocals having changed and developed remarkably. The guitars merge perfectly with the orchestration and it's just plain epic. This song is divided into five segments on the track-list, each one holds up, although 1 and 4 are particularly excellent. And this is where the non-conventional side of this new record really comes out in the lack of solos or straight-up riffs, but every other aspect of metal has done that? Why can't this go for something more transcendent which takes music at its core and does everything it can making it epic in the least conventional manner, it's not just adding full orchestras or extending song times, Time I goes beyond that. The atmosphere here is impressive, the vocal work blows everything Jari has done in the past clean out of the water and once again, its a snow-storm effect one gets during a listen. Following this we get the tracks "Land of Snow and Sorrow" with a fantastic guitar intro, solid vocal work and backing and the same mesmerizing work as the previous songs. Jari's clean vocals shine here more than ever before as do his harsh.

"Darkness and Frost" is the second instrumental on the album, it's very different from the previous one, not so much the emotional beauty of "When Time Fades Away" but it does have that Far East side which is further explored and it builds up well enough, getting louder and more spectacular as it goes. And then we have the final song on this half-album "Time" which picks up straight up after its instrumental (again hardly a transition). Like the other two songs, it's multi-layered, intricate, complex, has many interludes and vocal diversity. The lyrics are seeking and the song length is spot on. And of course, it leaves you wanting for nothing but more, and seeing as how it's only Part 1 - that is a good thing.

Just a couple of last things to say, out of all the participants in the epic-war that seems to have come over genres like Folk and Symphonic Metal and the bands which cross between those genres (Turisas, Ensiferum, Nightwish and Within Temptation) to name a few, Wintersun is the only one who has perfected the art and basically has awe coursing through every second of its time, it doesn't just add orchestras or extend song times, power is welded in and the meticulousness of this album sends Time roaring against the efforts of its counterparts. Now one thing to bare in mind for anyone who feels a little short handed with this. It's only Part 1 of a greater product, not the band's decision so much as Nuclear Blast's and Time II should be released in 2013 which essentially means that one then, all of this will work together probably as a greater whole.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 29 November 2012
Album of the year? Definitely. Album of the decade? Could be. Without becoming tangled in comparisons and superlatives, I'll put it like this: 'Time I' is epic in vision, theme and musical execution. Not chained by the restraints of stereotypical metal, Jari Mäenpää and his Wintersun compadres explore musical styles from Chinese traditional (using instruments such as the sublime-sounding erhu) to precision-picked extreme metal with blast-beat drumming and choral backing vocals à la Nightwish. Indeed, 'Time I' has an epic soundtrack-like quality to it that is often reminiscent of Nightwish at their best. As has been pointed out by many others, the wait for this album was inordinately long. Every time I listened to Wintersun's flawless debut album, I wondered when - and sometimes if - they would get around to releasing a follow up. Jari is a perfectionist with every detail of the music he creates. That, combined with financial issues, delayed the album. The resulting masterpiece is well worth the wait.

Intro 'When Time Fades Away' is oriental, epic and majestic. It would fit just as well onto the soundtrack of 'Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon' or 'Hero' as it does onto this album. Subtle strings and heart-wrenching erhu melodies hook the listener with their poignance, setting the scene for track two.

Clocking in at 13:31, 'Sons of Winter and Stars' is the longest track on the album. Its four sections, (I) Rain of Stars, (II) Surrounded by Darkness, (III) Journey Inside a Dream, and (IV) Sons of Winter and Stars feature Wintersun's trademark sweep picking, executed with astonishing precision. Kai Hahto's drumming is notable, as are the Scandinavian influences that permeate the lyrics and music after the album's decidedly eastern intro.

'Land of Snow and Sorrow' features, in addition to one of the greatest titles ever, one of the greatest riffs ever. Starting out slow and down-tuned for maximum heaviness, it segues into a clean-toned refrain then pummels the listener with a monumental riff. Throughout the 8:21 of the track, it alternates between delicate melodies and epic heaviness. This is something Wintersun do extremely well. Like their compatriots Insomnium and Amorphis, they understand that the key to making a sonic impact isn't relentless bluster: it's exhibiting light and shade, darkness and light.

'Darkness and Frost' is another instrumental piece that could easily be from a film soundtrack, although this time it's not oriental: here we find ourselves very much rooted in the band's Scandinavian homeland. Subtle wintry keyboards and note-picked guitar melodies provide the tune, with occasional bass-drum booms creating a sense of majesty.

'Time' is the second-longest track on the album. The biggest difference between this track and the Wintersun debut is Jaari's vocals. Gone are the growled words discernible only with a lyric sheet, in their place clean vocals that soar above twin guitars and a thunderous rhythm section. The song twists and turns until 6:15, when a staggering guitar solo precedes another beautifully sung chorus. The song outros with piano melodies, delicate keyboards, wind chimes and an erhu bringing us back to the oriental theme of the intro.

There isn't a weak moment on 'Time I'. Every detail of the album - song titles, lyrics, melodies, musical execution, vocal delivery, production, artwork and packaging - is breathtaking. This is the standard by which other metal will be measured. With this album, Jari and co. have set the bar so high that most bands won't be able to see it, never mind reach it. Monumental.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 18 May 2013
My appetite for Wintersun was really sharpened after their first tour in Europe (2005-2006) when I discovered that they were actually one of the most original and promising metal band in its genre. But I'm not sure what that genre is at the moment. Jari Maenpaa is a typical 'auteur' and produces whatever he likes, from early melodic death through to power/epic/symphonic (or even cinematic) metal with a lot of great riffs, nice growlings and clear vocals to make it more epic; plus his band bring technical perfection to all his compositions. this makes Wintersun stand out on metal scene. Although Time I divided opinions about Wintersun among metalheads, this album is definitely an achievement for the band. after so many years of silence, I honestly say, I did not expect something so different yet so "Wintersunnish" on this last album. However, I rate it only 4/5 because we all know there will be Time II and this might be the one I would love rate higher, so I am leaving some space for that.
I would recommend it for people who liked self-titled album in 2004, but are interested in new sounds and multi-layered complex compositions. The DVD makes Time-experience even better because of the live rehearsals on which sound is rougher and more immediate. If you are not a fan, but like exploring beyond metal subgenres you are used to, then it is definitely worth its price. But it needs more than one hearing due to its complexity, and it takes time to adjust your ears to all the orchestrations and overlapping melodies and vocals.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 20 December 2012
While I hadn't heard of the band til the hype surrounding this album release arose, the amount of excitement that had built in anticipation of this CD certainly got me interested. I pre ordered this set and tried to keep an open mind.

The initial tracks in the album are a little odd. I feel the entire album is centered around the track 'Time' and everything either side is a build up or wind down from it. That said, it still makes for a wonderful listen and really takes you away from the world for a while. Instrumentally and vocally, I found this album absolutely superb, very enjoyable even after 50 or more listens. I showed the 'live' (studio) DVD included in this set and they really enjoyed it, despite not being fans of metal or harsh vocals. This could be taken in two ways; the album isn't as heavy as the first, or this is just wonderfully accessible. Both, I suppose.

Pick this up if you enjoy metal but you're open minded about what constitutes as metal. Lyrically this isn't very typical metal, and the amount of melody may throw you off considering the band's 'black metal' tags, but definitely give it a go on youtube! I have not regretted buying this set as the packaging is lovely and would make an excellent gift.

I didn't give this item 5 stars because of the lack of 'full' tracks. What I mean is, several feel like intros or outros, think Runescape soundtrack stuff (the retro ones!!).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 27 May 2013
Wintersun's 2012 belter, "Time" comes in at a mere 45 minutes. If this were any other band I would instantly call them out as not writing enough songs. However, upon listening to this one thing becomes crystal clear; this music is so good it's almost transcendental in tone and mood.
If you like anything Metal, melodic or any music that makes you FEEL, then I strongly urge you to get this album. Even though these guys don't give as much output out as they should, when they do it's something to be truly treasured.
Subsequently the DVD sweetens the deal. Within this gleaming rim you'll find studio performances of the entire album, random bits and bobs (posters, tour info) and, my favourite, a look at mixing the first 6 minutes of "Sons of Winter and Stars", the album's flagship song. The sheer craftsmanship shown in that featurette made my appreciation of Wintersun's music skyrocket.
In summary, get this album, you WILL NOT regret it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
I bought this on recommendation and after hearing the completely epic final track "Time". The whole album works up to this track, which has a really great, melancholic and catchy chorus. A stunning track. I have to say though, and this may just be the fact that I am not a great lover of Prog-Style Metal,that the rest of the album does sound a bit the same and none of the tracks although good in their own way match up to this one unbelievable track. On shuffle it is at times hard to tell each one apart.

That said, the production values are outstanding with extremely complex arrangements and orchestration and great guitar parts.

I cant help feeling that maybe if they had released both parts simultaneously it would have worked better but its still an excellent album. Really I would give it 3.5 but Amazon wont let me.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 16 November 2012
This is weird, but I find that the melodic parts and the orchestration parts I enjoy a lot more than some of the heavy parts? I think maybe because on this album its as if there is more focus on these parts?( my opinion anyway ). This is very good album, memorable melodies like on the previous album, same build up to big choruses. There is enough shredding and heavy vocals, don't get me wrong, but the intro or first song sets the mood for me.

Only complaint, its too short. Just as one gets into the album its over. I would have to agree with some of the previous reviews, but this seems like an EP.
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on 21 January 2014
This amazing record came out after tons of delays, and those delays were well worth it. As a final result, a mind-bending album is now out. This album is split into two parts, and Time II is supposed to come out in early 2014 which I cannot wait!

All the tracks are addictive and great, starting from the slow 'When Time Fades Away' intro and then exploding with greatness on the next song 'Sons of Winter and Stars', full of great sections and great instrumentals. When Time I was being mixed and produced, each song had from 200 to 300 stems which I find amazing. As you finish the second track in the album, 'Land of Snow and Sorrow' kicks in with a slower pace, definitely slower than then previous song. 'Darkness and Frost' is the interlude, also the introduction to the song 'Time'. A mix of guitars, keyboards and some percussion make this a beautiful interlude. At last, my personal favorite, the song 'Time' has been stuck in my head for 2 weeks straight and it's unbelievably perfect. It has everything that Wintersun have to offer, great vocals from Jari, technical solos and orchestral greatness.

This package comes with the album, booklet and a DVD which is worth getting. It contains almost all tracks played on Sonic Pump Studios, in the exception of the intro track 'When Time Fades Away', but the rest of the album is played. It also has some Licks and Tricks for those who want to look deeper into the album, and a demonstration of the 'Sons of Winter and Stars' project. As I mentioned, the songs had about 200 to 300 tracks, this 25 minute video will show you how all these tracks worked out in the album's second song.

All in all, Time I is a great album for Melodic Death Metal fans, I seriously recommend it!
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on 6 December 2012
My experience with Wintersun differs from many of their fans. While most of them have waited many years for this record, for me it was in fact the first time I listened to them, in spite of being a fan of Heavy Metal music for many years. As such, I was unaffected by high or low expectations and was able to enjoy the album as it was. From the very first moment I was delighted by the composition, production, and overall great quality of this record, and I did not understand why there were people who seemed to be disappointed by it. After I discovered Wintersun's first album it was clearer, people expected a faster, more straightforward album, similar to that (also amazing) first effort by the band. However, it seems to me that these fans should give the album another try, if they haven't already, as the final product is nothing short of an Epic Metal masterpiece, with great riffs, vocals, and incredibly emotional at times.
The lenght of the record is not a negative point either, as some seem to find. At almost 44 minutes long, it is as long as most of old times classic (no one complains about Slayer's Reign In Blood or Iron Maiden's Killers, both shorter albums than this one) and doesn't make the all-so-common modern mistake of recording a long album with many filler songs.
I finish this (my first review) recommending the album to not only Wintersun fans (most of them must already have their own opinion) but to all Epic Metal fans. To me, it is a clear contestant to Album of the Year, and will be eagerly expecting its second part next year.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 9 April 2013
Superb album from start to finish. More symphonic and majestic than the first wintersun album and wonderful throughout.

Only gripe with it is it feels like half an album. With the record label demanding the album 'Time' be split into 2 to give them more money (I can only presume), this feels like half an adventure. It still clocks in at nearly 50mins but why it couldn't have been a double CD I don't know.

If you enjoyed the more wintery magical elements of audio delight on the first record you'll love this.
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