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Ensiferum's first album is a masterpiece and one of my favorite albums. When I found that the mastermind behind the album formed this band, I started watching and waiting to see what would become of this band like everyone else: waiting for this album. I felt like the self-titled was solid, but I thought eventually Jari would realize his vision he set out to achieve when he left Ensiferum.
8 years later, Wintersun decides to greet you with a 5 minute intro. Please take note, Wintersun, that intros longer than 20 seconds are bad enough, but when you haven't produced anything in 8 years, making a 5 minute intro to start the "album" is absolutely absurd. Stop.
One of the 84 adjectives Jari uses to describe this band is "technical" and I'm glad to say that is accurate. This is extremely demanding on the technical end, very harmonically and structurally complex music. Of course, most of this is programmed music. This could explain part of the wait for this album. There's half of every musical instrument known to mankind being used. The overall feel of the music is I think what the band was going for and it's pretty cool in that regard.
Other than that, I don't have much good to say about it.
The guitar tone is the weakest I've heard in a while. I listen to a lot of "symphonic" stuff with a lot of different things going on, but this is metal. Heavy fucking guitars...we need them. It's kind of important. The guitar is so far behind everything else it feels absent most of the time. Considering this band was kind of founded on guitar riffs, it's an odd decision to not only bury the guitar in the mix, but just fail to put any real leads on the album, especially considering Jari is a pretty damn good guitarist. The mix of most of the instruments is inconsistent and the whole things kind of blends into a goop of indistinguishable tones.
Aside from that, the songs' structures are too ambiguous for their own good. There are decent ideas throughout, but none are fleshed out and there is way too much "ambient, winter-y, vaguely Oriental"-sounding filler. Way, way too much. It's 40 minutes long and all of about 25 minutes is de facto "song". 8 years for 25 minutes of music.
Time. Mine was very much wasted on this band.