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Most I've heard from so far mentioning Wintersun have originally been lead to hearing Wintersun through the separation of Ensiferum's genius, Jari, and Ensiferum. I feel alone in this sense, because I stumbled across Wintersun, completely oblivious to the existence of Ensiferum. This could be construed as sad, but fear not, there is back-story reasoning behind my lack of knowledge of Ensiferum, and that can be present in an upcoming new review for Ensiferum's debut album.
Now to start. What can I say about this album, other than, perfect?
To start off with, possibly the most out-shot aspect of this album is the sheer faultlessness of the drums and guitars. This album is a symphony of crystal-clear riffing, flawless drumming, and untiring vocals, and it's surely noticeable to any skeptic of Viking Metal potential. It's not like any other typical melodic death metal band, simply because of the amount of folk influence that is present in this album. Quite obviously all the influence comes from Jari's Viking musical ways of life, seeing as he composes everything on this album, but adding to the super-aggressive drumming and riffing, and also the technicality of the guitar and keyboard solos to typical viking folk melodies creates only one thing in my books: Perfection.
Being a guitarist, I'm obviously going to look for stringed integrity in any music I hear, other than Black Metal, which is something I listen to for different reasons. But quite simply said, the guitar solos present on this album are simply superb, if not completely and utterly perfect. At impecable 3/4 pace, the guitar solos present a mixture of melodic arpeggiated progressions and red-hot licks that just really get your head moving in a hard head-banging circular motion. The riffs, also outlining the backing synths and vocals, create a much more aggressive approach to the melodic side of the songs. The tone of the guitar is very dry, yet fat, and every note is perfectly audio and lyrical in it's own sense, rather than the cacophonic guitar work of about 99% of all Death Metal bands. The thing I absolutely loved during my observation of this band's combinations, was that the drums accentuate the guitars, and at the same time, the guitars are accentuating the drums, all the while being sprinkled with the rusted melancholic aural orgasm that is Jari's voice.
Second of all is the vocals. Now, seeing as I had not heard any Ensiferum prior to hearing this mastery, I did not know what to associate the vocals with. But all I know was the mixture of very harsh high-range screaming alternating with high-range raspy power yells and choiric vocals created JUST the perfect atmosphere to accompany the Epic Melodic sound. Jari's vocal ability is quite diverse in fact, He has a very deep singing voice, can pull of about any type of scream, and has quite an impressive high-range singing voice. Again, another star on the black-board for these guys, right next to the perfection of the guitar work...Let's see if the other three star outlines can be filled...
Thirdly come the drums. My god. Wonderful. Superb. Bravo, Kai, bravo. You've outdone yourself. This guy has a very impressive endurance rate when it comes to blast-beating and double-bass. His gravity blasts and basic blasts are perfect. Adding to these most stand-out aspects, is that it's being played just the way I fucking love it: Hard and fucking fast. So much anger comes out of this guy's drum sticks, and it's so blatantly punching you on both sides of the head when you're sitting between two speakers that are bellowing out this musical mastery that is Wintersun.
Fourthly comes the keyboards and synths. Again, this is another set of instruments in the band that is at a perfect level; it's not drowning out the guitars, but the guitars aren't drowning out the kayboards. It's perfectly audible, yet still exaultedly accentuates the crisp crunch of the guitar riffs and solos. My favourite keyboard effort is still track 1, "Beyond the Dark Sun" at exactly 0:17 comes the guitar/keyboard dual arpeggios. Perfect. The guitar was still perfectly audible, and so were the keyboards, yet you can still easily tell the dominant force was the guitar, which is how it is supposed to be, unlike the right honourable epitomy of homosexuality, Rhapsody, who feel the need to drown out every soundwave of guitars with keyboards. Don't get me wrong, I'm a fan of Rhapsody, but god they piss me off sometimes. But anyway...
And finally, the production and sound effort. Every deci`bel of every form of gain and frequency in this album is levelled perfectly. A lot of viking metal or death metal albums that I've heard have had red-line gain jumps, and they hurt your ears like fuck. Whether it be a high-pitched scream, or a distorted, over-forced flute solo, or just the guitar pinched-harmonics, whatever. This album has none of these problems at all. Every second of every track seems to be secured with an orange-line frequnecy level, which doesn't let anything jump out and anal-fuck your ear drums to the point of ear-perforation. Being a sort of self-proclaimed audio engineer myself, I generally look out for safe-level frequencies in metal albums. Because I do enjoy hearing, and too many bands I've listened to have nearly jeopardised this blessing. But no, this album is perfect sound-wise, and it has been mixed to my liking 100% of the way.
The about wraps up the review on the instruments and playing, and lastly:
In conclusion: Fuck yeah.
I strongly recommend this album to everybody in existence, but seeing as 90% of those people are close-minded pop-heads, I recommend this album strongly to every metal head in existence. It is purely perfect in every way, and provides something for every type of metal head: The synths, keyboards, solos and double-bass supremacy for the Power Metal heads; the harsh vocals for the Death Metal and Black Metal heads, as well as the technical drum work and blistering guitar solos; the all-round folk influence for the Viking/Folk Metal heads (such as myself); and just the basic mastery that milks you of every drop of semen that you contain. Or for any other type of Metal head that actually has a brain...Or a sex drive.
Get it, or die in eternal misery and pain due to your body's deprivation of this fine piece of ass...I mean art...by Wintersun.
Wintersun - Wintersun: 100/100