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Beauty and Brutality - 96%

Sarcothin, February 24th, 2007

When I first heard this album by Finnish band Wintersun, born from the carcass of Ensiferum, I was immediately entranced by its brilliance. Wintersun is an album of incomparable depth, packed with variety and ear-bleeding brilliance on so many levels. It certainly ranks among the finest metal albums I have ever heard. It is all the more amazing then that this is the band’s first album.

Wintersun is an exquisite composition of metal. It is extremely difficult to pigeonhole the genre into one specific category. There are strong elements of power metal in the music, with heavily symphonic keyboards and savagely fast drums and guitar riffs, but there are also many black metal style aspects to Wintersun, with its harsh vocals and heavy sounds. I have categorized it as Viking power metal, because of its style and lyrical themes, which evoke images of Vikings, the cosmos and winter. This album is an extremely unique offering, which is totally different to almost anything I have ever heard.

From the first song of Wintersun, the brief ‘Beyond the Dark Sun’, the album drips with quality and imagination. It has a superb, epic sound, which at times is brutal and angry, as in the first two tracks. In other cases, such as the superb ‘Sleeping Stars’, the music is soaring, melodic, entrancing and bewitching. The lamenting cries of Jari Mäenpää are supremely passionate and remorseful, despite the harsh vocals, which is far more than can be said for the attempts of most such bands to achieve an epic sound. He also displays a fantastic singing voice, which is peircing and deep.

Throughout, Wintersun is majestic and powerful, with incredible guitar riffs that actually sound like some kind of lonely Viking melody which was played on a wintery coast hundreds of years ago. This album invokes so much emotion and passion for a metal album, managing to get the balance between brutality and beauty just right. Wintersun continually segues savage war cries into heart-rending melodies, creating a sublime metal masterpiece. If you are a fan of metal of any kind, I recommend you buy this album now, and support a fantastic band.