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This review is from: Time I (Audio CD)
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.