The Forest Seasons Limited Edition
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Limited Edition 2CD Mediabook After 5 years - WINTERSUN return with their 3rd studio album entitled The Forest Seasons. It's release is accompanied by a massive crowdfunding campaign the band set up to finance their planned WINTERSUN headquarters. Additionally, there is a live album, recorded at Tuska Open Air 2013. Mixed and mastered by the band themselves, The Forest Seasons invites the audience to embark on a musical journey through a mystical forest with it's 4 colossal tracks and a total running time of 54 minutes. The first track of this new sonic adventure, 'Awaken From The Dark Slumber (Spring)', begins with a mysterious, dreamy melody, accompanied by subdued forest animal sounds. With driving guitars and pounding drums, the song snakes through an unstoppable 15-minute course. Second up is 'The Forest That Weeps (Summer)', which also starts with a calm and gloomy acoustic intro until you get woken up by haunting low guitars, continuing the previous lead melody. Even more tiny sonic details rise up all around and lead through the harsh verses to the track's majestic clean vocal-choruses, followed by a heavily grooving and increasing instrumental interlude. In the end, after reaching it's pinnacle in the form of the final chorus including an even more massive choir (feat. members of ENSIFERUM, TURISAS, MOONSORROW, TYR etc.), 'The Forest That Weeps (Summer)' abruptly returns to it's original theme and fades away slowly… Silence is reigning… A foreboding wind is drawing near…'Eternal Darkness (Autumn)', the 3rd track, catches you by surprise and keeps what it's title promises with it's black metallic elements- devastating blast beats and harsh vocals await! Traditional folkish tunes lead into the most emotional, saddest and also concluding part of The Forest Seasons, 'Loneliness (Winter)'. One of, if not THE most impressive and varied vocal performance by Jari, supported by the bittersweet lead guitar tones, guides you through a walk full of sorrow and hopelessness, before this almost 1-hour rollercoaster ride comes to an end… This album is definitely WINTERSUN's most varied opus to date and cements their status as a one of a kind group! It's intricacies means it needs some time to get into, but then you will be rewarded with a fantastic journey for your mind. With The Forest Seasons, Jari Mäenpää has once more proven to have the magic touch for building musical works of art.
Top customer reviews
Eerie bell intro, well defined guitar melodies on the verses, string orchestrations overarching majestically, mellow synth textures, catchy chorus, nice variations on main theme, astral choral bliss, epic brass goodness, folky harp melodies reminiscent of early work. HECK YEH
Transitions from previous song smoothly, triplety heavy metal power chord smashing, even catchier chorus, folky breakdown, dat riff, movie soundtrack symphonic breakdown... all comes together into Wintersun perfectiony goodness. DOUBLE HECK YEH
*quick note on mastering: big step up from Time I (especially on the definition of the drum sound front!) Better sound separation, but a tad too quiet on the orchestral elements at times, getting lost behind the vocals and rhythm guitars. Given how ambitious Jari's records are, it's a reasonable job.
**another note - bonus edition with expanded digibook layout, acoustic Winter and instrumental CD is worth the few extra quid IMO. (Especially for fanboiz)
Then onto the bad...the first five minutes of Autumn are just constant blast-beats drenched with string harmonies. It's somewhere between painful and nothing special - could easily be any one of a dozen different symphonic or atmospheric BM bands. It (no pun intended) warms up with the EPIC solo and then it's back to blast beats again, but with the harmonies switched up and a couple of melodies to make them more interesting this time. Structurally, the song as a whole doesn't come together, although two of the main individual components are good. Track just needed to be less than 10 minutes long!
Winter gets into rather odd proggy doomy power ballad / pretentious pained vocal wailing territory but it's done well enough to pull it off. Less than a week into owning this album, and still don't know how I feel about this one. I love the main theme, translated between harp/bell/guitar, but it is somewhat overused. The string and choral parts are the driving force in the first half of the song, but luckily this is broken up by another awesome solo before the whole thing becomes too tedious, then finishing on the high notes of soaring guitar melodies over the final few minutes.
Overall, the album is two brilliant tracks, and then some experiments, which drag on for longer than they should. The experience varies wildly from being too subtle and slow to build up at some times and too harsh on Autumn. I think Jari is quite open about this being an atypical Wintersun album (some are cynical enough to designate this CD a cash grab in absence of Time II!) but if you just accept it, it's a mixed bag, which is >50% musical perfection. So, 4 stars.
Album of the year and pretty much of every previous years ever since Time I was released.
That may be the next release or the one after, but don't be expecting the huge sound that was on Time I.
In fact this is a raw as we're probably ever going to hear from any Wintersun album.
We could even go back to pre debut album demo's, which is probably the closer comparison.
Because Jari does everything on this album, his three bands mates are listed in the credits, but not for any performances (except backing vocals).
We have just 4 songs, all be it long and each representing a different season.
All are very different and two being quite unique and sounding like nothing Wintersun have ever done previously.
For me it contains the best Wintersun song ever, 'Loneliness' and also the weakest in the black metal assault of Eternal Darkness.
The other two are epic songs that contain the WS trademark catchy melodies and chorus with many layers to peel away.
This is not an immediate album in any sense, it will take a few listens to fully sink in.
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