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Wintersun - Wintersun - 82%

toraqi, June 19th, 2015

Wintersun, and especially frontman Jari Maenpaa (insert umlauts wherever), have evolved into a kind of "meme metal" band; they are circlejerked so much over that it is easy to forget the music behind it. Which is a shame, because Wintersun's music is actually pretty good, though listeners are usually divided between "it sucks" and "it is a masterpiece". Giving this album 100% is most definitely overrating it, but 30% is also a bit strict.

There is a very clear influence from Ensiferum, starting with the guitar tone, and of course the epic vocals. The vocals absolutely shine here; they are mixed in very well and his voice is really good, and most importantly it fits the lyrical themes perfectly, far better than in Ensiferum. The theme of winter is present in almost every song, and the lyrics are at least decently written on most of the songs. "Beyond the Dark Sun" has my favorites from the album, almost every line is delivered very memorable. That said, his clean vocals are not too good, but he stacks layer upon layer of them to make them sound decent. This is a very noticeable problem on Time I, his clean vocals are way too dramatic and sound almost fake.

The instrumentation is decent, it never fails really, and occasionally he spits out some great riffs like on "Sleeping Stars", but he mostly relies on the surgically clean production and his technical capabilities to carry it for him. His riffs are very fast and melodic, and simple power chord riffs are omnipresent. This does mean that they get really repetitive after a while, especially in the later songs. His solos are sometimes way over the top, like the last part of the solo in "Winter Madness", but sometimes they work really well, like in "Death and the Healing". Arpeggio abuse is another flaw of this album, it all sounds far too predictable sometimes, he probably uses the same sweeping pattern a hundred times in this album. The bass does nothing special at all and never gets a single highlight and the drums are kept quiet, although they are way more interesting than the bass parts. Synths loosely follow the guitar riff at all times, but I think they are a bit overused.

The production sounds way too glossy and sweet. It sounds a bit fake. Though this fits the music better than a murky production, I still find it annoying how overtly sugary the album sounds. The guitar tone is nice and the drums sound very pleasant, although a bit quiet. Sometimes you can't distinguish guitars from synths, which personally irks me.

One thing that always bothers me about this album is the length. It clocks in at 54 minutes, and honestly this is at least 15 minutes too long. Later in the album he pulls out longer compositions that aren't really bad, but rather fail to keep me entertained. The last two songs should have been cut, as currently it really is too long for what it is. I have no problems with long albums, but this one just doesn't work. It is too repetitive, and the last two songs are basically a dozen ideas strung together that are not really related.

This album has some flaws, but overall you're in for a great ride. This album is very relaxing too, the guitar is so melodic you forget how fast he is actually playing. This album kills in the vocal department and this is its main draw, but the album has too many flaws to be in any way perfect, though it has already cemented its place in the metal community as undeniable classic, whether you agree or not.

Favorite track:
"Beyond the Dark Sun"

"Battle Against Time"
"Winter Madness"
"Death And the Healing"