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Wintersun: Time I

It's been 8 long years since Finnish extreme symphonic power metal act (yeah, that's a mouthful!) Wintersun burst on the scene with their self-titled debut back in 2004, but the wait is finally over with the release of their brand new album Time I. Actually, this one was supposed to come out years ago, but with all sorts of delays and computer hardware problems occuring it took the band much longer than they anticipated to actually finish this up. Thankfully in that time they were able to put together quite a bit of material, so all indications are that a second part to this CD will be released in 2013.

If you are not familiar with Wintersun, the band is basically a symphonic power metal act with black metal elements, not unlike Epica but with male vocals. The use of orchestral keyboards and dueling clean & growled vocals is something the band do very well, and all three elements are on display throughout this album, especially on the engaging "Sons of Winter and Stars", a near 14-minute epic that is simply stunning from start to finish. "Land Of Snow And Sorrow" is a grand & majestic rocker, with crunchy riffs and plenty of keyboards (similar to Kamelot in some respects), while closer "Time" is an adventurous symphonic black metal/power metal gem that will surely appeal to any fan of Borknagar & Dimmu Borgir.

If there's any drawback to Time I it' s that the album is somewhat brief at barely 40 minutes long. Otherwise, this is expertly crafted symphonic metal that is sure to please a lot of fans and gain plenty of new ones who perhaps didn't get to hear their debut 8 years ago. Part 2 should be a knockout if this one is any indication.

Track Listing
01. When Time Fades Away
02. Sons Of Winter And Stars
A - Rain Of Stars
B - Surrounded By Darkness
C - Journey Inside A Dream
D - Sons Of Winter And Stars
03. Land Of Snow And Sorrow
04. Darkness And Frost
05. Time

Added: December 23rd 2012
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 1781
Language: english

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Wintersun: Time I
Posted by Jeff B, SoT Staff Writer on 2012-12-23 14:14:22
My Score:

Unless you simply haven't been paying much attention to the metal scene recently, it's no secret that the wait for a new Wintersun album was long and torturous, to say the least. After initially being scheduled for release all the way back in November of 2006, a series of setbacks and recording issues delayed the album for nearly six years. What this meant is that fans of Wintersun's unique and masterful debut album had to patiently wait eight whole years to hear its successor in the form of Time I, the first release in a two part saga. Fortunately, Wintersun has returned with a triumphant observation that stands as one of the year's most breathtaking and original releases - the mix of symphonic power metal, folk, and extreme metal heard on the band's debut offering is still present on Time I, but it has been given a fresh coat of paint that makes for one hell of a listen. An intense, complex, and unforgettable album indeed, Time I is easily one of 2012's musical highlights.

When the Time concept was still in its infancy, mastermind Jari Mäenpää said that this would be a very intricate album, and each song would contain around 200 tracks. Though this may sound far-fetched to the unsuspecting listener, this is an incredibly dense composition - vast orchestrations, multiple vocal melodies at once, huge keyboard tones, and pummeling guitar riffs characterize the music here, and it seems like every minute consists of dozens of musical ideas and melodic phrases blended into one coherent piece of music. The key word in that sentence is 'coherent' - although lots of things are always going on and most of the riffs are very death metal oriented, melody is the first priority here. Epic choruses and bombastic keyboards may not appeal too much to death metal purists, but more open minded listeners are likely to be amazed with the vast array of sounds that Wintersun has conjured. Almost as if a symphonic power metal band decided to up their testosterone level, Time I takes everything that's great about epic metal and makes it more heavy, progressive, and complex than anything I've ever heard before.

Beginning with the Tolkienesque intro "When Time Fades Away", Wintersun shows us right off the bat that this will be an epic journey; the intricate arrangement, touches of Eastern influence, and climatic final segment make this one of the best instrumental intro tracks I've ever heard on a metal album. It segues right into the thirteen minute behemoth "Sons of Winter and Stars", and this track immediately sets the stage for the rest of the album with its heavy riffs, multi-layered keyboard arrangements, and massive choruses. "Land of Snow and Sorrow" doesn't feature as many harsh vocals as the previous track, and it's also generally more mid-paced, but it retains the stunning keyboard work and strong melodies that made the earlier portions of the album so great. The main chorus has a Viking-influenced feel that showcases Wintersun's strong connection to Scandinavian folk music. "Darkness and Frost" is a short interlude piece that serves more as an intro to "Time" - it contains many of the same musical ideas as the following track, and also segues seamlessly into its successor. "Time" is the epic closer to part one of this saga, and features some absolutely killer riffs and some of the most technically challenging acrobatics heard on the entire observation. The album closes on a more atmospheric note, but that is certainly appreciated when one considers how bombastic the rest of the album is.

Time I is a short album by today's standards, clocking in at only forty minutes, but that is easily forgivable considering the depth and quality of the material offered. This is an example of 'all killer, no filler', and I would take that over a boring eighty minute album any day of the week. Wintersun is a group of musicians that have absolutely mastered their craft as artists, and the stunning vision of extreme symphonic metal shown on Time I exemplifies a band that has a burning desire to push music into uncharted territory - a professional, ambitious, and masterfully written observation, the first album in the Time saga stands tall as one of the year's best metal albums. Wintersun is back, and they have returned stronger than ever!

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