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We all know the story of Wintersun. In 2004, Jari Maenpaa gets into a fight with Ensiferum due to scheduling conflicts, is fired, and releases the first Wintersun album soon after, which is universally praised by critics and fans alike. Then the next thing we know, the band disappears off the face of the earth for eight years. Eight long years. That's how long it took to release this next album, with postponements and delays pushing back the date until some wondered whether or not it would ever be released at all. But now the time has finally come, and Wintersun delivers an absolute masterpiece that meets all expectations and outdoes its predecessor.
Dear Mr. Jari Maenpaa. Though you seem very humble and polite in interviews, many would argue that the eight year postponement of your next album release, with the continued promise for the greatest album ever would show signs of a massive ego. Well if that's the case, by god you deserve it. The man is a genius. Seriously, how does such epic music formulate within the mind of a human being? If you thought the bar was set high with the first Wintersun album, boy your are in for a surprise, as "Time I" raises it higher and is actually an improvement over the debut. How is this possible? Well for one thing, its much more organized and better composed than the first album. People are complaining about the 40 minute wait being too short, but the truth of the matter is that it makes the album that much more effective and absorb-able. Instead of 8 minute songs that drag on at times, "Time I" flows together much more coherently, and therefore proves to be much more enjoyable to listen to. Not to mention that the complexity is mind-blowing.
"When Time Fades Away" is an ideal example. Influenced by Japanese folk music. I can't remember the last time that I've been so moved by music; the delicate, beautiful Japanese folk melodies fused with the majestic symphonies is simply overwhelming. It brought tears to my eyes the first listen. From there, it leads into the second track, the powerful "Sons of Winter and Stars," which could definitely make a case for Wintersun's best song. Jari's melodic power metal riffing provides it with a powerful marching theme throughout, particularly at the end. Mark my words, this one will be a breathtaking live performance.
"Time I" is definitely more of a whole album experience than 2004's "Wintersun." Wheres on the first album, it was more of a song-by-song approach, "Time I" blends together as one long piece of music. By the third track, "Land of Snow and Sorrow," this clearly becomes more apparent. By now, it feels like you're listening to a progressive power metal album, where Jari's clean vocals carry the song, his melancholy tone carrying the typical Wintersun emotions of sorrow with great effectiveness. After this, we have another beautiful instrumental track, "Darkness and Frost," which does a perfect job of leading into the 11 minute grand finale, the title track "Time," Though slightly less powerful that the fist half, "Time" concludes the album in grand fashion nevertheless, with an instrumental having a foreshadowing effect, likely reminding us of Part II coming in a few months.
I can understand the flaws one would see on this album, and it's only natural that someone will have something to bitch about regarding an album that took years to finally release. I myself am somewhat annoyed that after waiting eight years and all we get is forty minutes at a time instead of being rewarded with the man's entire body of work at once. And where is "The Way of the Fire?" But I continue to remind myself that Part II is due out next year, and in all likelihood, it will be a fine follow up to form a truly excellent double album. Just a side note, if you were coming into this expecting to hear a replica of the first album, you will likely be somewhat disappointed; less rawness, fewer guitar solos, etc. Both album are great for what they are. And "Time I" is one massive helping of epic, melodic death/power metal, definitely more powerful than the first album thanks to incredible production, increased complexity, and powerful orchestrations. This album is perfect. It made my year. Those pissed fans can cry foul all they want, but it doesn't change the fact that Jari is one of the most talented musicians to ever walk the planet. Get with the TIMES man, or go dwell in the "Land of Snow and Sorrow," where Jari's furious guitar will unleash an avalanche of "Winter Madness" upon you.
Highlight Tracks: Every song