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There’s just something about Finland that I don’t think we Yanks will ever understand. More often than not, all those extreme metal bands that keep popping up like pimples on a pubescent’s face from the thousand lakes are just excellent beyond excellence, coupling bone-shattering heaviness with heroin-esque addictive hooks that keep the listener mesmerized. There is something in the atmosphere, something appealing with a country that spends half a year under swaths of snow that makes for great, heavy, and catchy-as-fuck music.
And the cream of the crop, all present BS aside, is this here Wintersun band.
Wintersun is, in my eyes, an amalgam of pretty much every great aspect of Finnish metal…a feast of neo-classical/progressive/Viking/folky/melodic black metal done with that “Kaiitos”-evoking touch. For all his perfectionism, this Jari Maenpaa fella can definitely craft some amazing music, and this is shown in the most absolute of spades on this album. While not stretching too far from his Ensiferum-ridden roots in the musical sense, Wintersun instead conjures up more of an image of wintry dominion and natural wonder versus the former-mentioned group’s chants of Viking dominance (funny how certain bands can create a sound that’s taken straight from nature with electronic instrumentation…but that’s neither here nor there). All this comes together as a double-edged sword of infectious melody and head smashing brutality the likes of which so few equals can ever come close to capturing, made all the more intriguing due to the fact that Mr. Maenpaa pretty much did all this by himself (except for the drum work); being able to bring to little those tasty guitar licks, powerful riffs, atmospheric keyboard lines, epic screams and booming choirs by one’s lonesome is something that earns an A+ in my book, even if the wild abandon percussive rolls and blast beats come from outside sources. Every song on this disc is a invocation of extreme metal perfection…that combination of seemingly contrasting styles pushed through a potent production wringer and shot forth with the madness and intensity of sudden winter gales; I truly don’t see anything wrong on this, nothing that shouldn’t be complete and utter ear candy to anyone in the melodic black/death metal world, where songs like “Winter Madness”, “Battle Against Time” and “Beautiful Death” shove more ideas at you than your poor, abused ears can possibly handle. Such is the never-ending insanity known as the most prominent self-titled album I’ve come across, present and past bands included.
In the end the first Wintersun blew me the fuck away and has given the metal world the first entry of quite possibly the best Finnish metal band in recent years. The first album is so damned good one would have to wonder…where the hell can it possibly go from here? How can it get any better than this? I guess “Time” will tell…when it comes to pass