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very good, but not brilliant - 80%

mysterion74, May 28th, 2009

Here, in Wintersun's debut album, I find a very solid and very good release. First of all, as far as songwriting goes, Jari really steped up his game. All of the melodies in all of the songs are pretty exceptional. Honestly, I would probably give the album a good 10 percent higher if I received a copy of only the lead guitar and the vocals. All lead guitar parts and melodies are extremely thoughtful, and even if they do sound similar from time to time, what band doesn't have similar sounding lead parts? You really can't find any. I could really go on all day about the power of these lead melodies. From fast paced in your face riffs like the one off of beyond the dark sun, to the slower and soothing melody of death and healing, the lead melodies took me into another world.

Jari suceeded in painting an atmosphere with these melodies. Jari was always very good with melodies. His work in Ensiferum completely backs this up. But unlike in his work with ensiferum, the melodies and lead parts were not only very interesting, but they also completely took me into another world. In Wintersun, the music certainly painted a clear picture of many different sectinos of an epic journey, similar to what listening to any moonsorrow album will do.

The big problem I found in the album though, came in the rythm section. Almost everything lead oriented was really spot on, but the rythm sections of this album completely lacked. The drumming was downright boring, the rythm guitar palm muted and tremelo picked everything, you couldn't even come close to hearing the bass because it was just following the guitars, and when the synth wasn't playing a lead, the chords just distracted me from really getting into the song. I think the problem here was that Jari did EVERYTHING. As good of a lead guitarist and vocalist as he is, he cannot write interesting rythms to save his life. In Ensiferum, Jari had other people to do this. He had a bassist, a rythm guitarist, and a drummer. Here, he did not have a bassist, did not have a rythm guitarist, and although he had a drummer I'm going to go out on a limb and say that Jari told the drummer exactly what to do because no good drummer should ever use blast beats as much as he did in this album.

The rythm section of really ruined this album for me, mainly because I really believe that a strong rythm is needed for any lead parts to really shine. In this album, there are multiple examples of where well written lead lines were boring and dull because of simplistic rythms. The opening riff to starchild is a great example of this. The leading riff is great, I love it, I learned it by ear and I play it all the time. It's fun, upbeat, interesting, and still very melodic. But if you listen to the drums, bass, synth, and rythm guitar, it just kills what the lead is playing. On drums we have a very fast tremelo double bass drum with some hits on the snare and symbols. Nothing is less interesting than listening to a straight tremelo double bass drum pattern for more than one measure. I love double bass, but it needs to be used tactfully. Listening to the same, fast, back and forth pattern instantly bores me. On the rythm guitar we have more tremelo, big surprise. Palm mutes, tremelo, switching notes as in accordance to the lead line. Now, this isn't always bad. This kind of rythm is actually very complimentary for the lead guitar at some points. But when the drummer is doing the exact same tremelo on the double bass, its just to dull. On top of all that, I don't even know if bass was recorded here. I can't hear it. Probably because its just following the rythm guitar. No surprise though, that's what happens when lead guitarists write bass parts. Then on top of all that, in the very light background we have this shrill synth playing these chords that just make me want to jump off a bridge.

And that's just one example of failure in the rythm section. Those kind of things are all over the album. The drumming is plagued with blast beats and your simple average rock drum patterns, the bass is consistantly just doing what the rythm guitar does. And the rythm guitar is either playing tremelo or long held out power chords to compliment the leads. I really cannot find a decent rythm on this whole album, despite the genious that is the lead lines.

So after bashing probably the most important part of any rock album, you might ask, "why the hell did you give this album an 80 percent?" Well, that's because, despite the horrid rythms, I cannot get past the genious of the lead lines, vocal patterns, and composition of the album. This is probably the only album where the lead parts and composition is so good that it overshadows poor rythms.

So in conclusion, I would certainly suggest this album to pretty much anyone. Especially anyone that enjoys blast beats and mindless rythms (and I guarantee there are people out there like that). The leads and melodies are just so good that everyone should get a chance to listen to them, even if they dont like the album as a whole. I personally am very excited to hear Wintersun's upcoming release of "Time." Hopefully, if Jari has a real bassit and rythm guitarist to work with, the rythms wont be so common and typical as if the guy who just put all that time into writing lead lines came up with something simple in a few seconds.