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Gorgeous Music - 97%

PhillCantu93, March 20th, 2010

If you haven't already heard of Wintersun, I pity you. In 2002, Jari Maenpaa (not the proper characters, but oh well) left another band called Ensiferum to pursue his own goals as a musician. The result was Wintersun; a band that fused folk metal, black metal and melodic death metal all into one bundle of echoing beauty.

Their debut, self-titled album is loaded with exactly what you would expect from the above-mentioned combination of music; melodic riffs, insane drumming (thanks to ex-Rotten Sound drummer Kai Hahto), and a mix up between clean and harsh vocals. The music puts imagery right in your head and you can instantly tell what Jari was trying to depict with whatever song you're listening to.

But to go into further detail, the album has a fair amount of variety to it, albeit only having eight songs on it. There's the more intense, "in your face" type of songs ("Beyond The Dark Sun", and the aptly titled "Winter Madness") that are more up-tempo. Then there's the slower paced songs that are more oriented towards the beauty behind them as opposed to aggression ("Star Child", "Sleeping Stars"). The songs are anywhere from 3 minutes to 10 minutes in length, which somewhat compensates for the fact that there aren't many songs to be heard here.

Aside from the above mentioned, Kai Hahto really shows off his drumming abilities in terms of variety in style and endurance (the intro to "Battle Against Time" having a full two minutes of blast-beating). Jari Maenpaa handles the vocals, guitar, bass and keyboard roles on this album, and he is pretty skilled in all of them. He shows off his ability to lay down clean singing and harsh screams all in one song...even doing a growl in "Beautiful Death". His keyboards are very atmospheric and add to the theme of the song. The real part of him that shines here, however, is his guitar playing. Songs like "Winter Madness", "Death and the Healing" and "Beautiful Death" all display his abilities to fuse phrasing, dynamics, melody, and some pretty crazy shredding all into one beautiful solo. His solos are probably the highlight of this album.

My only real gripe about this album is that it's only eight songs long. I would hope that since alot of these songs were written YEARS before Wintersun was even formed that Jari would have more material. I would also rant about how only about half of the songs on here have guitar solos, but I suppose beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

So all in all, if you want some variety in your metal, yet you can't seem to stray from the more extreme side of metal, pick up Wintersun's self-titled album; especially if you're a fan of black metal, folk metal, and/or melodic death metal, because it literally has it all.