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I hate to burst the bubbles of the fanboys out there, but some of us have waited to hear this album for 8+ years and have seen numerous gaps of time without any news and cancelled shows with the promise that Jari was spending all of his time crafting the greatest thing he's ever done. We were promised almost unprecedented production values, rivaling what you'd normally hear from bands like Blind Guardian, with 200+ tracks on each of the songs. Time passed without any news of Time. One day, Jari says the album is finally finished, but will be released in 2 parts because Nuclear Blast says so. I immediately became incredulous, wondering why this album couldn't be a single release and expecting the worst because of the split. Surely something so epic in scale deserved to be presented to us as intended. However, I put this aside and figured that the music could speak for itself and should be good enough to carry two separate parts given how much time has gone into Time. All of these songs have got to be a lot better than some of the drudging boredom produced on the latter-half of the first album.
After hopefully at least 1/10th of my lifetime has passed, this album finally graced my ears. The introduction track was beautiful, fulfilling the promise of Japanese stylized atmosphere Jari had mentioned back in 2004. This leads perfectly into one of the best songs Wintersun has ever released, if not the best. Sons Of Winter And Stars really does show a culmination of talent from the whole band and focuses on the dynamic sound and emotional journey which great symphonic background can bring to a band. This is far better than anything Nightwish or Rhapsody have been doing with their orchestrations as of late, which made me hopeful that this album might actually live up to the hype from its lengthy gestation period.
That hope died as soon as the next song played. Nowhere to be found is the inspired mixture of heaviness and orchestration featured on the previous track. Instead, we're regressing to a boredom not unlike the last few songs on the previous Wintersun record. This time it's worse, because the lack of real guitar riffs and solos leaves us to only focus on the sleepy, half-baked nature of the song. I began to feel crushed by the weight of mediocrity and the fact that the rest of the album was yet another intro/song combo of epic length only compounded my fears.
The album ends just as terribly as I began to fear in the middle. The boredom continues and nowhere do I hear anything nearly as well-written as should be expected from this release and the length of the title track becomes a chore to sit through unless your hanging from Jari's nutsack. There is finally a solo in this song, but it's not enough to save it from being quite possibly the most mediocre thing Wintersun has ever produced... and I daresay one of the worst things I've ever heard Jari be a part of musically.
Overall, this is a very disappointing album. As I said, I approached this under the assumption that splitting Time into two halves shouldn't have any effect on whether the music is good or not. What we get is one amazing intro/song and then 3 more tracks which feel nowhere near as inspired and quite frankly are insultingly half-assed when compared to the 8 years given to writing and recording this material. The actual sound of the recording isn't terrible. The mix is good for the symphonic elements, but the guitars are slightly buried and the bass is difficult to discern among it all. The drumming is sufficient, though never anything more than stock beats to support the overall composition. Again, these things are disappointing given the length of time dedicated to this release, but at least it doesn't sound like it was recorded in Jari's bedroom.
I am eager to hear what it is in store for Time II, as Jari has promised more riffs and solos on the second half, but I really can't expect a lot given what I've heard so far on this release. This is not the magnum opus we've all waited so long to hear. It's not even half of a magnum opus. This is a vast disappointment and anybody who disagrees is fooling themselves. Go back and listen to the first album. It's a much better use of your time.