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I feel like one of the few members of the metal community that wasn't blown away by Wintersun's debut. It felt like repetition taken to the extreme, and not much else. THIS, however, was actually a nice surprise. The monotony was taken out, and in its place is some pretty epic-sounding, bordering on power metal at times, music. The album itself contains much more complexity than its predecessor, and holds much more entertainment value. It's an album I can listen through more than once without sitting there asking myself, "Why am I listening to the same riff over and over again? And while I find it annoying that the very mention of this release is enough to bring a steady stream of drool forth from the gaping mouths of Wintersun fanboys, this album is actually far more worthy of the hype surrounding it than the debut. Another major annoyance I have is that I can already picture the number of reviewers who will be gushing over this album simply because Wintersun made it. All the same, I was impressed with how far the band has come in their sound.
Credit should definitely be given to Jari for the monumental song structures. Despite the length, the longest tracks on here don't rely on a single riff idea, repeatedly played in different ways, as a means to fill in time. Instead, the music manages to flow well while simultaneously steering clear of the nuisances from 2004. Jari mentioned that we would hear some Japanese-influenced melodies, and the opening track shows this style right from the get-go. While the instrumentation of the introductory song doesn't really show up much afterword, it's still a pleasant musical addition. Guitar-wise, Wintersun puts out some marvelous, melodic passages. Whereas, 2004 saw the debut being dragged down by its overly repetitive guitarwork, Time 1 shows us that Wintersun can use guitars to enhance the musical experience.
Vocally speaking, both clean and harsh vocals are done very well. Clean vocals can be rather hit-or-miss, but the ones used here are actually pleasant. They are the main reason that this album can feel a bit power metal-esque, combined with the speedy guitars. The symphonic and melodic death aspects are still present, and Jari's harsh tone doesn't become overbearing.
It took 8 years to make this album, and after listening to it, I can see why. Not only are the songs well-done, but the band also came across several setbacks in the process of the albums' creation. Some will complain that the album feels bloated, that the wait wasn't worth the result, or that it was merely a creation put forth in order to satisfy Jari's ego. Whatever complaints are put forth against this album, there is no denying that it is far superior to 2004's concoction in just about every conceivable way. I'm a little concerned if they can keep up the same level of quality for a second Time album, but Wintersun have proven that they have some surprises up their sleeve. Is this the best album of 2012? I don't think it is, but I do think it's one of the better releases of the year.