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Nothing Quite Like It - 99%

Debopam Roy, October 21st, 2012

Here it is, people have been waiting for this for eight years. And let me be just go ahead and say that its well worth the wait. Now, I'll try not to be too effusive here. Wintersun is one of my favorite bands, but be assured that I am not biased with this review in any way. This is an effing masterpiece and deserves to be recognized as such. Now, the best way to go about reviewing this album is to be going by the track-by-track approach. Its such a short album anyway, and moreover, each one of its songs leads to the another, so I really cant see any other way of reviewing this. But first let me say something about the razor-sharp production values of this album. Jari Maenpaa claims to have mixed about two hundred tracks in each song, and frankly, I see no reason to doubt him. A hell lot of different things appear in every song, and to Jari's credit, he has arranged them masterfully. You get to hear bells chiming, operatic vocals, at least five folk instruments and of course, a wide array of guitar effects. This whole album is atmospheric as shit. Just by listening to those sounds make you feel like grabbing your shields and go about charging with your ax in the Finnish wilderness. In a lot of ways, it is reminiscent of the massively popular Elder Scrolls : Skyrim. I'm serious. The mixing of the track is impeccable too. How the hell did he manage to mix two hundred tracks in it, if it was not done to perfection then?

First up is 'When Time Fades Away'. One of the finer instrumentals I've heard in about five years. This song sets the stage and gives a feel to the listener of what's about to come. This is just plain brilliant stuff. The same melody carries over to the next song 'Sons Of Winter And Stars'. Now, this is divided into four parts, so the songwriting is pretty complex. But that's expected of a band of this caliber. What's really impressive about this song is that it's a brilliant amalgamation of that impeccable atmospheric shit and solid riffing. A brilliant journey from start to finish. 'Land Of Snow And Sorrow' is the next one up. Its clearly made in the same vein as the first one. Epic and otherworldly tunes. A rarity in metal these days. The next one is 'Darkness And Frost' and this one is clearly inserted to build up the atmosphere for their title track 'Time'. But did I give the impression that this is a pushover? Hell no! this one is a brilliant song on its own right. That extremely infectious tune carries over to 'Time', and this is where the band gives its all. This is a perfect song in many ways. This song basically defines what this entire album is about. An ode to the rich culture of Scandinavia, and most particularly, of Vikings. Jari clearly loves them. Well...when you come to think of it, I do too. But that's beside the point. All you need to know is that this song is as epic as epic gets.

I have three minor complaints with this album and hence the one percent deduction from a perfect hundred. Firstly, well, this one may be too trivial, but still...did you look at the names Jari gave to these songs? Made me cringe. The second and a slightly more important issue, is that in spite of Jari Maenpaa's enviable virtuosity on the guitar, he didn't give us any good, long solo. That's surprising. I'm sure we were all expecting another Winter Madness again. But he disappointed me on this one big time. There was a short, but very good solo on 'Time'. But it was too short. Just too short. Thirdly, the album is too small. Just forty minutes after waiting for eight years? Come on now! Moreover, there was no need to split his eight year's work into two. No one would have minded an eighty minute long album. I'm pretty sure we'd have all welcomed it. But it just seems to me Jari needs money, because I don't buy his excuse one bit. But the quality of the songs more than make up for the quantity, so I guess we can't really blame him too much. On a side note, even though the harsh vocals are the same after eight years (which is actually a very good thing, in case you were wondering), he really has seemed to improve his clean singing. I guess he realized just how good his baritone sounded and decided to make the best of it. Good for him. I'm all the more impressed.

All in all. This album is a pure masterpiece. Jari Maenpaa really understands the dynamics of a song and extorts every bit of brilliance out of it. This is literally masturbation to your ears. Just put on your headphones and crank up the volume. i guarantee you, you will be transported to another dimension, and for the next forty minutes, nothing else will matter. Yes, you will lose all track of 'Time' (good pun, don't you think, ah well...). This is basically the album I have been waiting for all my life, musically. I have explored everything, everything just to find myself this kind of a sound. It seems I finally got it. This is not Melo-Death. This is truly Epic Majestic Shit (or whatever he calls it). This has transcended the barriers of metal and folk, and has managed to fuse into something so unique that you remain mesmerized by its aural prowess even hours after this incredible journey. For this is no less than a journey, penned by a true poet. This is the new benchmark for Melodic Death Metal, and yet again, Jari Maenpaa is the man to beat.