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This album is a masterpiece, a fusion of mainly melodic death metal, black metal and folk themes and ideas, resulting in perfection. The brainchild of Jari Maenpaa, former Ensiferum lead singer and guitarist, Wintersun is his latest creation. While it is unfortunate Jari is no longer with his former band, he moves onto greater things, namely, this.
Jari does everything on the album. He handles vocals (both clean and harsh), backing vocals, lead guitar, guitar, bass, and keyboards (synth), everything with the exception of the drums played by Kai Hahto. Jari is clearly enormously talented, handling each part extremely well. His vocals are something which really stand out, his growls are second to none, and he is in my humble opinion the best metal vocalist I’ve ever heard, being able to merge melody and brutality into his voice. His clean vocals are also fantastic and are used sparingly on the album to give a great contrast to his harsh vocals.
The music is not that dissimilar from Ensiferum, however if Wintersun is winter (hint: the clues in the name), then Ensiferum was autumn (fall). Time has moved on since autumn, things are colder and people have grown older, this is reflected in the music. The album actually sounds colder and more technical than Ensiferum, and is precise and calculated, rather than thrashy and bombastic. The core elements remain the same with a melodic guitar riff backed by another and some keyboards carrying the melody with the drums taking the rhythm and bass. The bass guitar often has simplistic parts which simply add to the overall sound, rather than leading it.
The songs are masterfully constructed, and we can see the great part Jari had in Ensiferums writing from their latest efforts (Victory songs). Jari writes more epic and lengthy songs for this album, with some shorter ones thrown in as well. The pacing on each is well handled, songs like ‘Beyond the Dark Sun’ being very fast, while others like ‘Sadness and Hate’ being slower. However a lot of songs have faster, slower and mid paced parts bleed together, to give the songs greater emotion and power. Clean vocals are usually used on the slower parts to give a ‘calm within a storm’ feel. The album creates a great atmosphere, as I said earlier, the music actually sounds cold.
Songs like ‘Starchild’ show just how great the album is. The song starts off with a fast paced chugging guitar riff, drums and the keyboards and lead guitar taking the melody. It slows twists and turns and really shows off Jari’s vocals when it gets to the line ‘I fall like a burning star’. The lyrics, address themes of life, death, space and time, and are philosophical in a sense, in this case, the song ‘Starchild’ being about a god like being who is a ‘creator of dimensions’. The music is also incredibly complex with up to 7 different parts going at once, all great on their own, but put together create a rich tapestry of sound, the level of musicianship and high standard of composition unmatched by all put a few artists.
The album is also remarkably consistent, with each song being of outstanding quality, one can have favourites but each song has different merits and it merely comes down to personal preference. Personally I fell ‘Starchild’ (Jari’s personal favourite) and ‘Sadness and Hate’ (with a beautiful clean interlude) stand out as epic songs.
This album is timeless perfection. Don’t let the cynics put you off, there is none better than Jari, and this is his Masterpiece. Just be glad your blessed enough to hear it.