For some odd reason, Wintersun was my first introduction to the melo-death/neoclassical genre. Honestly, I don't think I would've become such a huge metal fan without stumbling upon this marvel. It's amazing, extremely heavy, yet extremely melodic. Jaari Maenpaa truly is an excellent musician, I'd even go as far to say that he's one of the best currently. I was enthralled to find that he alone record the lead guitar, second guitar, bass, and synth for all 8 tracks. On the percussive side, Kai Hahto is currently my favorite drummer, using an immense amount of blast beats and using quick and precise strokes, he's definitely a force to be reckoned with in a metal band. Another thing that makes this record one of my favorite records of all time, is the epic feel to every song (save the speedy open track) Just about every track is very long, almost like an Opeth album. For some reason, the songs get longer as the album goes on, I have no idea if it was intentional or not, but it really made me look forward to the next song. When it eventually arrived at the ten minute ultimate closer of sadness and hate, I knew that I had just listened to a masterful piece of work. Jaari’s clean voice is also very operatic, which gives the music a more epic type of feel than most bands. The lyrics are also truly amazing, some so well written that chills will be sent down your spine. Basically, Wintersun has all the factors that make up an awesome neo-classical band.
Beyond the Dark Sun: The only song that can really be considered short on the album, it lasts only 2:38, which is just over half the length of the second shortest song. None the less, Wintersun delivers here with a very speedy track. There’s really not much to say about this song, it’s basically just fast all the way through with very strong screams by Maenpaa. There is a very short keyboard solo at that lasts from 16 secs to 21 secs that really kicks ass for its length. It’s got a very melodic feel to it. A good introduction for what's to come. 9.25/10
Winter Madness: Starts off with furious blast beats from Kai, and a melodic riff over the scorching guitars shortly after. From the time Jaari’s voice starts, it’s easy to tell that this is one of the album’s best. It’s almost like a longer, more diverse version of the previous track. The chorus is really catchy here, it basically uses every instrument the band uses to their extent. The guitars are very loud, as are the synths and Kai pounds away on the drums. After the second chorus, a softer melodic part comes in for a bout 20 seconds, which eventually leads to a blistering guitar solo, which lasts from 3:05 to 4:05. After that, the song only seems to get faster with an amazing breakdown, accompanied with Jaari’s furious screaming and a very melodic guitar riff. After that, the chorus repeats and the song ends. 10/10
Sleeping Stars: This is probably the worst song on the album, though still very good. After the first two speedy tracks, the temp drops a crapload and we have sleeping stars. The first minute or so is an operatic section with melodic guitars and strings. After that though, an amazing riff comes in at 1:33, keeping the previous melody, but adding some brutality to the song. The verse is more operatic like the intro, with Jaari using his operatic singing voice. The chorus is more like the brutal riff, very loud screaming and as melodic and heavy riff accompanying it. There are a few softer bridges that link the choruses and verses back and fourth. Overall, this song is much less brutal than most of the others, but still manages to retain a heavy feel to it. 9.25/10
Battle Against Time: Here the longer songs start pouring in. This song starts much like winter madness, with aggressive guitars and Kai beating the crap out of the drums. The intro before the vocals come in is pretty long, about 2 minutes. At 1:57, this already fast tempo gets even faster which eventually leads to he verse, which slows a little bit down from the last part. The chorus is one of the best on the album, with operatic singing and brutal guitars. Some great lyrics are also featured there:
“Watching to the night where hope is gone
Carry so much burden in my heart”
Another solo starts at 4:16. Like the Winter Madness one, it’s very fast, only with a little bit more of a melodic sounding guitar. After, the chorus is repeated, and hen the outro comes, which is the same as the intro. This song didn't really nee to be this long, it could've been about the length of Winter Madness since its intro and outro last so long with the same riff, but it overall doesn't really matter. 9.75/10
Death and the Healing: One of the best “ballads” ever written by a metal band. Like the previous track, the intro lasts pretty long, though not quite as much as before. It starts off quite melodic, the riff has a very organic feel to it, sends chills down our spine. When the verses finally start, Jaari shows off his amazing clean voice, again sending chills down our spine. The guitar in this song rarely changes, with the exception of the short breakdowns and solo. The chorus is incredibly haunting here, the guitars stay mellow and melodic while Jaari shows off his vocal skills again. Another solo is featured here as well, and damn is it a killer. It starts at 3:23 and lasts more than two minutes more, to 5:31. The solo starts more mellow, with a masterful and melodic sound, then gets a little heavier and thicker about 1/3 of the way through it, before mellowing out again and leading back to the verse, and eventually the chorus. A very masterful piece of writing here. 9.5/10
Starchild: Holy hell this song is amazing. It’s definitely the most epic song on the album. In fact, it's split into 5 different parts. The first part (beginning to 3:06) is probably he best part. It mixes brutality with melody and is a great way to show what the rest of the song is. The intro riff here is killer, jaari plays at breakneck speed. It eventually slows down for about 2 seconds, before getting even faster. THe verse then kicks in. I love the last section of the part, it starts at 2:21 and goes to the end of the part. It almost sounds like it should be the chorus to the whole song, it goes back and forth between harsh and clean vocals, yet features brutal guitars all way through. The next part (3:06-5:29) is very slow. Jaari doesn’t really sing, nor scream in this part, he kinda talks in rhythm if that makes any sense. Because of that, this part is very story-like. When this part ends, the tempo quickly shifts back to breakneck speeds and a keyboard solo commences. Thus, part 3 begins (5:29-6:20) This part is probably the fastest on the track, and his pretty synth heavy. Not much say cause it’s pretty short, but it’s very fast and catchy. Part four (6:20-7:08) is practically the opposite of the last part. It keeps the speedy temple, b ut drops the harsh vocals and Jaari once again uses his operatic voice. SOme of the greatest lyrics in the record are in this part:
“Im floating in the sea of stars, i’m drifting away from the shore.
I’ll be lost in the dream when the dark days come”
Very chilling indeed, the most melodic part of the song indeed. Finally, the last part comes, which basically sums up the whole song, with crushing riffs, yet mixing harsh and clean vocals again. This is rivaled for the best track on the album with the next one. 10/10
Beautiful Death: Starts off with just a distorted guitar note, then immediately busts in with an amazingly heavy riff. This is the most aggressive song on the cd, Jaari’s screams are as menacing as ever, and the guitar stays brutal for most of the song. The amazing thing about this song is that it’s one of the most melodic on the cd as well. It’s strange how a single riff can seem so heavy, yet beautiful and melodic at the same time. At 3:11, the guitars retain a very fast, and choppy lead with Jaari singing very softly. This switches to very loud guitars and Jaari screaming (though in a clean voice) “Save me from the rain, save me from the end! After that, the opening riff comes back, only slightly modified. After another verse, a very fast and melodic solo comes in, for a bout a minute. The chorus is then repeated. Once again, the chorus is awesome. It’s much longer than most, and combines harsh and clean vocals yet again. The guitar is very melodic in the chorus, yet pretty loud. Kai kills the drums yet again. The brutality ends at 6:56, and then an acoustic outro comes in, with some operatic singing in the back. The song eventually fades out that way. 10/10
Sadness and Hate: Well, we’ve finally arrived the 10:16 colossus of a track. The intro is pretty long, yet not really all that repetitive like tracks 4 and 5. At 2:08, the whole melodic riff stays the same, but almost swings, it’s a little strange at first, but grows on you. The verse finally starts at 2:28, with some of the most menacing screams ever by Jaari. From then on, the song doesn't change much, though some very folk-esqe bridges are featured. At 4:57, the best part of the song starts. The guitars slow down a bit, and stay extremely melodic, while Jaari delivers an incredibly haunting and operatic touch with his voice. This part is probably even more chilling than death and the healing. Unfortunately, there are no solos in this song, it would've made it a little more interesting but still, it ends the album marvelously. It ends with Jaari screaming his lungs out with “I give my life...to YOU!!” The outro is the same as the intro to sleeping stars, only with just the strings. 9.75/`10
Jaari and Kai prove themselves to be immensely talented with this release. Im hoping their next album, “Time” will be this good.