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After 8 years new Wintersun's album. Despite what track-listing says there are actually 3 songs instead of 5. When Time Fades Away is instrumental introduction for Sons Of Winter And Stars, and Darkness And Frost is introduction for Time. Intros aren't epic, but they serve good purpose for which they were intended. Sons Of Winter And Stars, Land Of Snow And Sorrow and Time are as complex and progressive as songs Starchild and Beautiful Death, but longer, and done in a little bit different style. The whole idea was not to make separate songs which will blow you away with speed, face-melting riffs and technical explosion of solos and drum-work, or beautiful and passionate ballads, but to make something that flows like a river does, and combines all of these elements. On its way there are parts where it runs fast, some chaotic parts with waterfalls and some tranquil parts on plains. When Time Fades Away is the spring of Sons Of Winter And Stars, and it flows through the ambient of orchestrations made in far-eastern style while crushing with riffs, machine gun-like drums and harsh vocals, drifting away into the complex structure of the song where orchestrations are very dominant, and chorus are epic. It's similar with Darkness And Frost and Time, but Time doesn't have bombastic aggressive parts like Sons Of Winter And Stars has.
Land Of Snow And Sorrow reminds of Abandoned and Eternal Wait from Ensiferum's same titled album, because Jari contributed on those too. It's like combination of those songs with symphonic metal style, and with even better clean vocals. Refrains in Land Of Snow And Sorrow and Time sound extremely beautiful because of Jari's vocal colour and interpretation, while delivering so much passion with it. There's good riffage going in these 3 songs. Not one of them is much outstanding, but together they make great composition which creates, leads and follows the mood change of songs. Unfortunately guitar solos are very short and not impressive like on Wintersun album. Songs work well even without them, but they could have been present, last long due to the length of the songs, appear on many places, and be much more creative and interesting. Time has short guitar solo which just goes almost unnoticeable because of orchestrations, and lack of creativity. It's the way it is, songs are like heavy metal interpretation of classical compositions. They really go flawless, so you won't even notice how long they are actually while listening to them. The overall sound is maybe more magical than it really seems, specially when it is combined with Jari's good voice which makes the whole thing even more pleasant. It takes lots of listens to capture the essence of the whole album, because every single second is way too complex.
The reason why this album gets maximum rating is because there are 3 songs, and each of them is 5/5. Time factor, number of songs and overall length are excluded here in order to make review as objective as possible, no matter how long it took to complete this album. So, was 8 years worth this? It depends on the point of view. If you see it as new studio album, no matter how long it took to make it, then there's nothing significant to complain about here. If you want pure melodic death metal, or the Wintersun we all know, you still have Wintersun album. This one is done in symphonic metal style, fans of progressive metal can enjoy this too, but mainly it can please anyone who likes top-notch heavy metal music.
Good sides of this release:
Composition of songs is done extremely well, so you have a feel that songs are shorter than they really are, or you completely lose the sense of running time. They are done in symphonic metal style properly, although balance between guitars and orchestrations is a bit in favor to orchestrations. Songs reflect Jari's impression and point of view on time both musically and lyrically, and it almost looks like they're giving a dose of Finnish mentality, where the lands are cold, yet its people are worm-blooded, revealing cold burning flame within their hearts. Lots of solid riffs combined with clean guitars, and contrast of clean and harsh vocals perfectly picture that. Highly recommended for all metalheads.
Bad sides of this release:
Songs lack guitar solos, but work well without them.
The whole album.