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A very cohesive, well-polished, and masterfully performed record. Where to start? The riffs are fast, aggressive, and edgy, yet they are still melodic and folk driven. Jari, the mastermind behind the album who recorded all but the drums for it, seems to have found close to that perfect balance between extreme and melodic which so many other bands appear to be struggling with today. His vocals and impeccably clear, yet rough enough to not be "poppy" and his use of choral vocals and the mixing of screams with singing is great. Much diversity in the vocals, gotta love that.
Unfortunately, not much diversity elsewhere. He seems to think that one riff can make about 2 1/2 songs worth of good material, which is definitely not the case. Some of the songs feel pretty rehashed by the end of the album (listen to the staggered riff in "Starchild" and compare it to "Beyond the Darkened Sun", you'll see what I mean). But, that aside there is much melody and cool stuff abound and the album is sure to please even if it does get a little repetitive.
Another cool thing about the album is the all around feel of it. The production is sleek, and very clean which gives it a cold and mechanical sound, which fits the theme of the lyrics, and the band name, quite well. On a side note, the lyrics are great too and really capture the struggle Jari went through during his band transition from Ensiferum to Wintersun. The folk melodies also remind the listener of Nordic tunes and winter etc. ; all in all it's a very cool effect. I also personally enjoyed the speed and accuracy of his playing; not all guitar players are created (or practice) equally and Jari most certainly is a master of the instrument. Along with the hyper-fast keyboard fills. Gotta love those.
In summation, if you are a fan of power metal of any kind, check it out and don't be afraid of the harsh vocals. If you are an extreme metal fan, don't be afraid of the melody and keyboards, there are lots of very extreme moments (and songs) and it's a very emotionally packed and aggressive album. And if you like both worlds like me, then are you waiting for?! Go buy this album now!